Black Bean Soup with Sichuan Peppercorns and 5 Spice

This black bean soup is a distant cousin of the classic tex-mex standard. Plump beans float in a thick and heavenly broth, spiced heavily with tingly Sichuan peppercorns and Chinese 5 spice. Top with togarashi and creme fraiche (or avocado) for a filling and easily vegan supper for a slow rainy Sunday.

Sichuan Peppercorns – what are they are where to find them

I think Sichuan peppercorns are pure magic. There’s nothing quite like them out there: intensely aromatic with a subtle lip numbing heat. Traditionally, these peppercorns are paired with spicy chili peppers with the belief that the numbing effect helps diners “handle” the heat better. This numbing affect allegedly helps you to fully enjoy the fruity flavors of the intense chilies. In this recipe, Sichuan peppercorns add a fragrant and tingly twist to black bean soup, pairing nicely with warming Chinese 5 spice and chili flakes.

You can find Sichuan peppercorns online, or at your local asian or spice shop.

Why this recipe works

  • Mushroom stock and Worcestershire sauce add an intense dose of umami. Sub soy for vegan.
  • Using better than bouillon mushroom base adds enough salt to flavor the beans.
  • Sichuan peppercorns and Chinese 5 spice add a warming element to the soup.
  • Using an immersion blender to puree part of the soup results in a thickened broth with whole beans still intact.

Black Bean Soup with Sichuan Peppercorns and 5 Spice

Course: SoupsDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4

bowls
Total time

2

hours 

30

minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp sichuan peppercorns

  • Olive oil

  • 1 onion, finely diced

  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tbsp chili flakes

  • ½ tbsp Chinese 5 spice

  • ½ tbsp cumin

  • 10 oz black beans

  • 2 quarts water + 2 tbsp better than bouillon mushroom base (sub 2 qts homemade or boxed mushroom stock)

  • 1-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (sub soy sauce or tamari for vegan)

  • Creme fraiche (or sour cream), sliced scallions, and togarashi for serving. For vegan, sub creme fraiche with avocado.

Directions

  • Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat and add the sichuan peppercorns. Toast, stirring regularly, until intensely fragrant, about 2 minutes. Careful not to burn. Turn the heat off and remove the peppercorns from the pot. Use a spice grinder, blender, or food processor to grind into a fine powder. Set aside.
  • Heat the dutch oven again over medium heat. Coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil, then add the onions. Saute until soft and starting to brown, about 4 minutes,
  • Add the carrots and garlic, and saute for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the ground peppercorns, along with the 5 spice, chili flakes, and cumin. Saute, stirring regularly, for about a minute.
  • Add the beans and stir to coat fully in the spices. Saute for about a minute.
  • Add the water along with the better than bouillon paste and bring to a boil. Cover partially, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer, stirring regularly, until the broth thickens and the beans are tender, about 2 hours.
  • If the soup still looks particularly watery at the 2 hour mark, turn up the heat and boil rapidly to reduce and thicken the sauce slightly. It will thicken more when you puree.
  • Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to partially blend the soup– you want to thicken the broth while still leaving some of the black beans whole.
  • Add the Worcestershire sauce and taste. Add additional salt (or more Worcestershire sauce) if needed. (Note: you will need to add a significant amount of salt if you do not use the better than bouillon base).
  • Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche (or avocado), sliced scallions, and a sprinkle of togarashi.
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