Soup, no doubt, is as old as pottery.


I can imagine the first homemaker of prehistory creating the prototypical recipe for soup.  I can see her gleefully tossing whatever she had handy – a meaty bone from whatever wild animal her husband had killed and slaughtered that day, some edible greens and herbs, and this and that (she was creative) – into her newfangled flameproof clay vessel and folding her strong arms with pride.  The secret ingredient in this case, she knew, was something colorless, tasteless, and abundant:  water.  And plenty of it.  The water, she was the first to discover, pulled the flavors out of all that she’d tossed in, swirling them in a vibrant, magical dance that would have no end.


Did this inventive woman call the resultant tasty mixture “soup”?  Probably not.  That name came much later in history, derived from “sop” or “sup.”  But she did proclaim it “good!” in whatever language she used, and she obviously shared her recipe with her social network of the day.  From that point, it went viral.  And aren’t we glad.


Fast forward to today:  It’s a cold winter morning in sparklingly beautiful Taos, and I’ve invited two dear friends to lunch.  I’m serving Southwest Black Bean Soup, which I made a huge pot of yesterday.  “Please come and help me eat this!” I pleaded in my e-mail, “it’s delish but more than I can handle on my own.”  Soup freezes nicely, of course, but really it’s meant to be shared.


This black bean soup was — like most homemade soups — easier than pie to make.  Just cook the beans (following the instructions on the bag of dried beans) with chopped onion, carrot, and celery until soft; add a can of crushed tomatoes and a beef bouillon cube (Knorr is a good brand), and some seasoning (I like a generous amount, about one teaspoon, of cumin) and salt and pepper, and let it gurgle a while, as you cross your arms and pretend you’re a cave woman.


Then take your handy immersion blender (I bought myself one for Christmas and am so glad I did) and blend the mixture until fairly smooth.  Garnish each bowl with all or some of the following:  a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt, minced fresh cilantro, finely chopped jalapeno pepper and chopped red onion.  Makes enough to serve many friends.


This is the taste of the beautiful Southwest.  This is a comfort food from way back.