Preparing the beans: 1. Pick through the beans. Remove discolored, shriveled beans and any foreign material. Rinse well. Set aside until ready to use. 2. Place in a bowl with 8 cups water and soak for 4 hours at room temperature or overnight. For a quick soak, boil for 10 minutes and let stand for 2 hours. 3. Drain beans, and place in a 4 quart pot with 8 cups fresh water. 4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover, simmer for 1- 1 1/2 hours until tender. 5. Remove from heat, drain and set aside until ready to use.
While beans are simmering: 1. In a 4-quart pot, sauté onion in oil over medium heat for 10 minutes, add the garlic the last 2 minutes. 2. Stir in contents of Texas Wrangler Black Bean Soup vegetable packet and sauté 2 more minutes. 3. Add drained, cooked beans and broth to the pot. 4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. 5. Using a blender or food processor, purée half the soup and return to pot. 6. Stir in orange juice, cook, uncovered, on low heat for 15 minutes. 7. Salt and pepper to taste. 8. Optional: Garnish with sour cream, chopped purple onion, and blue tortilla chips
To boost vegetables, add 2 cups fresh or frozen, chopped carrots or sweet potatoes in final 30 minutes of cooking before puréeing the soup.
To boost fruit, add 1 1/2 cups fresh orange segments or mandarin oranges canned or packed in 100% juice or water.
To give a Mediterranean twist, top each serving with 1 tablespoon unsalted cashews.
To cut sodium, omit the salt and prepare with low sodium broth. To cut sodium further, substitute water for half of the broth.
To cut added sugars, prepare with 100% orange or grapefruit juice. Like adding wine to a stew, orange juice adds a touch of sweetness.
Slow Cooker Variation
Recommended slow cooker size: 3-4 quart
Preparing the soup starting the night before: 1. Rinse, drain and pick over beans. 2. Place beans in 2 quart slow cooker, adding 1-2 quarts of water. 3. Bring to a boil, turn heat down and simmer, covered, 10 minutes. 4. Turn off heat and allow to soak a minimum of two hours or overnight at room temperature.
In the morning: 1. In a medium skillet sauté purple onion in oil for 5 minutes, adding the garlic for the last two minutes. Stir in the contents of soup seasoning packet. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of slow cooker. 2. Drain and add the beans to the slow cooker. Add chicken broth. 3. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours. Turn heat up to HIGH for 2 hours. This direction can be reversed. Cook on high for 2 hours and then low for about 8 hours. 4. Use an immersion blender and puree the soup in the slow cooker. Or, remove and run soup through a food processor to puree. 5. Add orange juice, salt and pepper to taste, stir thoroughly, reheating, and serve. We like to top it with a dollop of sour cream and a tablespoon of fresh chopped purple onion.
Cooking times for slow cookers vary, some are hotter than others. This particular bean needs 2 hours on high after presoaking as directed above.