Every time I make this soup I think of the 1980′s in St. Thomas, USVI. There was a marvelous cafe in the St. Thomas sub-base area called L’Escargot. The roof of the restaurant sported a huge Caribbean lobster (crayfish) and obviously their specialty was seafood. It was the in-place to be seen and party. One of my favorite places to eat out for sure.
L’Escargot served a Black Bean Soup with Shrimp for lunch which was exceptional. I finally met the chef and asked him what wine he used in the soup and he said sherry in a very off-handed manner as if I couldn’t boil water. Little did he know… I was crewing and cooking aboard chartered yachts at the time and developing a pallet for all things gourmet.
By the end of the yacht season I had succeeded in making a creamy black bean soup with sherried shrimp that everyone loved. Topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt and fresh cilantro this soup is a delicious experience. Serve it with a crunchy baguette and wedge of lime.
Turtle Black Beans are available in most supermarkets in the dry bean isle. They can be soaked overnight in double the water. So, cover 2 cups of dried beans with 4 cups of water. If you have a pressure cooker, rinse your beans, place in the pressure cooker and add double the water and process for 45 minutes. Refer to the bean package for quick soak method which involves boiling the beans first then soaking for an hour. Caution: DO NOT ADD SALT TO BEANS until they are softened. The salt will prevent the beans from softening, even in a pressure cooker. Depending on your tap water source, you may want to use filtered water as some water conditioners are salty. If you don’t want to fool with the dry beans, canned beans are widely available.
Ingredients for 4 servings:
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 strips bacon, diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb. 26/30 shrimp, deveined and shelled
- 1/2 cup dry sherry
- 4 cups black turtle beans with juice (2-14.5 oz cans)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp sea salt or to taste
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Tabasco sauce or red pepper flakes to taste
- fresh cilantro to garnish
- creme fraiche or Greek Yogurt to garnish
- lime wedges (optional)
- In a soup pot, saute bacon, onions and garlic in olive oil over medium high heat for 5 or 6 minutes. Add sherry to deglaze pot.
- Add shrimp and cook until shrimp just turn pink. Remove shrimp to a bowl.
- Puree 1 can of beans (about 2 cups) in a blender or food processor. Add beans and remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes stirring from time to time. Add water, stock or more bean juice if soup is too thick. ( If you prefer, puree beans with a stick-blender after adding them to the pot.)
- Return shrimp to beans and cook until shrimp is done (opaque), about 5 minutes. Take care not to overcook shrimp or they will be rubbery.
- Taste for seasoning, adjust if necessary, dish up and garnish as desired.