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I've been trying to replicate Panera Bread Co.'s black bean soup because I love it so much. I think this is my best attempt. Their soup has no discernable vegetables - just black beans in a thick bean broth. I've added vegetables here but pureed them so that they are just thickening the soup and adding fiber. This got an "A" for "almost like Panera's" from my family!
- Soak black beans overnight or for at least eight hours.
- Rinse beans thoroughly and place in Dutch oven. Cover with water. Bring beans just to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer. Continue to add water as needed to keep the water level just above the beans. Simmer until beans are tender. About 90 minutes.
- When beans are tender, add the lime juice, cumin and garlic powder.
- Sauté all minced vegetables in vegetable oil until barely tender. Cover vegetables with vegetable broth and simmer until vegetables are very tender.
- Place vegetables with broth and 1/3 of black beans into a blender. Blend very well until the mixture is very smooth.
- Pour vegetable/bean puree back into bean mixture and if necessary, add a more vegetable broth if mixture seems too thick.
- If the soup is not to your thickness preference, mix cornstarch with equal parts cold water and mix with a spoon until well incorporated. Pour cornstarch/water mixture into bean soup, while simmering until the soup is the consistency you like.
- Top with regular or vegan sour cream, for a special touch and enjoy! Best served with a delicious grilled cheese sandwich (whole wheat and havarti).
My daughter loves Panera's black bean soup, so I thought I would give this a try. I found the flavor to be a bit bland and had to double the spices. I may have added too much water though. I also tried to use my emulsion blender and I don't think the soup got smooth enough, so next time I will use my food processor. Overall, my daughter liked it!