Winter is coming…and one of my favorite things to do on a cold day is dive into a bowl of steaming hot soup with silky broth and hearty vegetables. The seasoned broth and beans make this dish tasty enough to serve as is, but I like to eat it with tortilla chips on the side and a choice of garnishes on top. Sometimes I combine several for different tastes and textures. My latest favorite? Freshly diced tomato. — L. Weal

2 (15-ounce) cans black beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 small red or yellow bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups chicken stock
3 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Optional Garnishes:
tortilla chips
chopped green onion
diced cooked ham
chopped tomato
shredded cheese
sour cream

small (1 1/2-quart) mixing bowl
cooking spoon
medium (2-quart) pot

1. Pour half a can of beans with the liquid into bowl and mash with back of spoon until most of the beans are broken. Set aside.
2. Sauté onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño in oil in pot over medium heat until tender — about 5 minutes. Add salt and stir.
3. Add mashed beans, remaining beans, stock, garlic, cumin, and red pepper. Let cook until boiling.
4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer soup 10 minutes.

• Mashing the beans releases the starch into the soup quicker, giving the soup more body. If using a food processor, just a couple quick pulses are enough.

40 minutes

4 servings