Among our pantry staples, a can of black beans is pre-eminent – you can do so much with them, side dish, salads, soups, more. A little doctoring in this recipe transforms the simple legumes into a soup studded with earthy flavors of bacon and the freshness of red bell peppers. For a wine companion, you can go crisp or rich, as with these choices.
Black bean soup: Cook 4 strips bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp; transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Add 1 white onion, finely chopped, and 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped, to the pot; cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add 1 can (29 ounces) black beans, drained, rinsed; 3 cups chicken broth; and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano. Heat over medium-low until soup is hot, about 10 minutes. Stir in the reserved bacon. Serve with sour cream and chopped cilantro. Makes: 4 servings
Pairings by sommelier Liz Martinez, of The Purple Pig, as told to Michael Austin:
2015 Eva Fricke Riesling Trocken, Rheingau, Germany: This nuanced riesling will cut through the richness of this soup nicely. The wine has clean and juicy acidity, with green apple skin and zippy citrus flavors. Its wet stone minerality will play off of the earthy black beans, and its freshness will lift the cilantro and zesty red pepper, leaving a pleasant lingering scent of white peaches. Also, the tangy sour cream won’t get lost with this wine.
2015 Domaine Andre et Mireille Tissot, Jura, France: For a lighter-style red, this 100 percent poulsard is perfect. It’s full of energy, with vibrant, fresh cranberry and pomegranate, and its acidity will line up well with the red pepper in the dish. The wine’s soft tannins are perfect for the black beans, and a hint of baking spice in the wine will play up the smokiness of the bacon.
2012 Quinta de Roriz, Prazo de Roriz, Douro, Portugal: This fuller-bodied red with plummy fruit is a blend of five indigenous Portuguese grapes, and is a wine for anyone who wants richness to match the soup’s heartiness. Slightly macerated blackberries and dried thyme will pair with the earthy black beans and herbs, while the wine’s texture and weight will match the soup perfectly. The wine’s soft tannins will also play nicely with the black beans.