Recipe for Brazilian Black Bean Soup – reenacted from the The Double Rainbow Days

Always homemade, this was the first place where I saw a soup’s creation on a regular basis – Double Rainbow built their soups from fat up.  Here, I discovered that garnishing soup meant much more than crumbling saltines on top of clam chowder.  Sometimes the accent of a garnish was essential in creating the finished flavor the saucier had imagined. Sometimes the garnish was part of the recipe that was not meant to be cooked in the soup or cooked separately and added at the end.  Heating cilantro or mint in a soup muddles its sharp flavor, if the texture desired for a soup includes crunchy, freshly made bacon cracklings, cooking them with the liquid will only soften them.  Added cold, at the end, correctly completes the original vision.

All of Double Rainbow’s soups were excellent.  Most of them were very common but exquisitely made – like their green chile stew, their chicken and red chile stew, their clam chowder, or even their split pea.  However, sometimes we offered a soup more adventurous.  One of which was their Black Bean soup.  This was a mostly puréed affair, that for over ten years I struggled to figure out.  As I had never seen the recipe and my palate was still young, therefore inadequate to determine a specific flavor out of a complete dish, all I had to go on was the memory of its unique seasoning.

In other words, I was screwed.

I will even admit to one sordid evening where I attempted to create this soup at home.  This abysmal undertaking was one of the few concoctions I have made that was dumped straight from the pot into the sink disposal.

One day, after working at the Hopvine for three years, I unwittingly recreated that soup, or at least what I remembered being that soup from Double Rainbow.  The flavors that I couldn’t pick out at the time were orange, cinnamon, clove and cilantro. These were four very common and familiar spices and herbs for me, as I grew up in New Mexico, but in combination they made for something mysterious and exotic.  While I owe that soup a debt of gratitude because it furthered my desire in the art of cooking, I believe that my Brazilian Black Bean soup surpassed my memory of Double Rainbow’s original creation.

After learning the kitchen job, in which I was thrust, I decided that I wanted to create Double Rainbow’s soups.  I wanted to further myself in the arcane depths of the kitchen and its wizardry. Unfortunately, Mark and Jean successfully avoided giving me the job for nearly three years.

In the end, I suppose it was for the best, after all, I wouldn’t have been able to practice my atrocious cruising skills if I was constantly kept behind the scenes.  Remember I was young, dumb and misanthropic.

Black Bean Soup

Serves 12 1 cup servings
Prep time 12 hours


  • 1⁄4 cup peanut oil

  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic

  • 1 Shallot minced

  • 1 red onion, chopped
 half a carrot

  • 1 to 3 jalapeño or serrano peppers, seeded and minced

  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted and coarsely ground

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • Pinch of ground cloves

  • 32-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
 6 cups Basic Vegetable Stock
  • 2 cups dried black beans, soaked overnight

  • Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1/4 bunch cilantro, washed, stemmed, and coarsely chopped, plus more for garnish

  • Sour cream, sliced roasted red pepper, and/or chopped dry roasted peanuts for garnish (optional)


1 Heat the oil in a soup pot over high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until golden. Add the shallot and onion and stir well. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion becomes translucent.
2 Add the peppers and the spices. Stir well, cover, and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, their juice, and the stock. Stir well and cover. Simmer for another 10 minutes
3 Rinse the black beans under cold water until the water pouring through is clear. Add the beans and carrot and stir well. Cover the soup and let it reach a boil. Stir the soup occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom and reduce the heat to medium-low. Let the soup simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the beans are very soft. Remove the pot from the heat and discard the carrot
4 In batches puree the soup until smooth, press through a strainer and discard the remnants, If the soup is too thick at this point add enough water to bring it to a thick creamy texture and density. Whisk in the orange juice, zest and cilantro and let the soup cool to room temperature. Store for a day in the refrigerator or until ready to serve it.
5 Bring the soup to a simmer over medium low heat pour into soup cups and garnish with a dollop of sour cream, sliced roasted red pepper, and/or chopped cilantro.