Black Bean and Roasted Poblano Soup

Welcome to Paradise.
This is what Joy Pierson, co-owner of Candle 79 will say to you if she happens to be in the restaurant when you arrive.
So picture yourself sitting in a cozy booth with people you love, drinking organic wine (or an organic mango mojito), and knowing that no animals were harmed in the making of the meal you’re about to enjoy. And then you taste the food and it completely blows your mind because you had no idea vegetables could taste this good. Obviously you knew they could taste great. But this is a whole other level of legumes! Pretty close to Paradise in my book. It might be even more paradisiacal (yes that is the correct adjective for Paradise…who knew?) if Paul McCartney were sitting at the next table. And it was your birthday. And he noticed and came over to sing “Happy Birthday.” It could happen. I’m just saying. It’s Paradise after all. And it’s New York.

So the Candle 79 Cookbook came out two weeks ago. I have known I was going to cook my way through it from the day they announced it, well over a year ago. Because I think Angel Ramos is the most talented chef I ever met (not to mention an absolute sweetheart), because everyone I know agrees that if we could eat at Candle 79 every day, we would all be vegans (and that seems like a really good thing), and because I’ve seen “Julie and Julia” as often in my thirties, as I saw “Dirty Dancing” in my teens.
Let me just say though, that I will take my time with this project. Because I can’t make a recipe a day (nobody here to eat it, no time). Because there are oh so many other things I also have to absolutely cook.  Because there are several recipes that require seasonal ingredients. So be patient. We will walk, not run! (this insight must be a symptom of moving to Brooklyn…everybody in Manhattan runs)!

I started small in terms of effort, with black bean soup and cashew creme fraiche (page 35).
It was great for dinner last night. And still excellent for breakfast this morning. The rest is going in the freezer.

PS: This was the first time I cooked a poblano pepper. It’s from Puebla, Mexico, and it’s part of the chili family. The green ones are mild, though very flavorful, more like a bell pepper (which in a pinch, you could replace it with, though it wouldn’t be nearly as exotic and cool). You should have seen me trying to roast mine over the little gas burner on my stove. Not quite the flame of a restaurant kitchen. It took a while, and I kept jumping when the skin burst with a little sizzle, but it came out black and bubbly and made the kitchen smell very good. Next time though, I might roast it in the oven.