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50 Simple Soups for the Slow Cooker
by Lynn Alley

Ahhh ... I love this stuff. This is not your ordinary chili but reflects the rich combinations of ingredients found in real Mexican cuisine. You might even think of it as a bean mole, since it combines many of the spices and ingredients, including both chile powder and cocoa powder, usually found in mole poblano. It's got guts and flavor, and I love it with or without the cornbread crust. It's best sprinkled with lots of cheese, sliced olives, scallions, and cilantro.
Serves 6 to 8


    • 1 pound (2 cups) dried black beans
    • 6 cups water
    • 6 allspice berries
    • 1 stick cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
    • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
    • 1/4 teaspoon aniseed
    • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
    • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
    • 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
    • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons chile powder
    • 1/4 cup cocoa powder

    Cornbread crust
    • 1 cup cornmeal
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 cup buttermilk

    • 1/2 cup sour cream or nonfat yogurt
    • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
    • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Rinse the beans thoroughly and place them, along with the water, in a 7-quart slow cooker. In a spice mill or mortar and pestle, grind the allspice, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and aniseed. Add the spices, along with the tomatoes, onion, garlic, bell peppers, oregano, chile powder, and cocoa powder to the beans. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours, until the beans are tender. Turn the slow cooker up to HIGH.

To make the crust, in a food processor pulse the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until thoroughly mixed. Add the eggs, vegetable oil, and buttermilk and pulse until the liquid ingredi- ents are thoroughly mixed in with the dry. Spread the cornbread mixture over the top of the chili, or drop large spoonfuls around the surface of the chili, and continue cooking on HIGH with the lid slightly ajar for 1 hour longer, or until a toothpick inserted into the crust comes out dean. Ladle the soup into bowls. Top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of scallions, olives, and cilantro.

A Word About Beans
Bean cooking times may vary, sometimes greatly, in accordance with the condition of the beans  themselves. Beans that have recently been harvested are likely to be in good condition; beans that have been sitting on the shelf for a long time may take a very long time to cook. Try to purchase beans from a source with a rapid turnover rate, and check the package. If the beans look chipped or there are "crumbs" in the package, chances are the beans have been sitting around for a long time.



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