snappy black bean soup with jalapeño and cumin

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The last time I set foot in an Abercrombie & Fitch was ten years ago. I was almost creamed by a football being thrown between two shirtless, six-packed young men. My reflexes had been dulled by the earsplitting music and the acrid scent of high-school-boy-in-heat cologne so I didn't duck until the last second. As if I didn't already feel old enough, I promptly tweaked my back while ducking and thought: Ow! My back! and then: What the eff am I doing in here? I extricated myself and took A&F off my radar completely. So imagine my surprise when strolling through the mall last week, a shirt caught my eye as I strolled past their window. It was a darling, button-up chambray number featuring little polka dots. Without even thinking about it,  I found myself enter.

There were no football throwers or teen shoppers so that made me feel less old except this: the music was LOUD. I think it got even louder and more strident during my respite. I meandered around, looking for the shirt when a pimply-faced employee greeted me. "HELLO!" She screamed. "HI!" I replied. I walked past her, took a lap around the whole store and couldn't find it anywhere. And my lord, those clothes looked young. Lots of pink and super juvenile with cutesy adornments. Seeing the clothes up close after all this time made me feel WAY too old to be in there. I had to hurry up.

I approached the teenager. "CAN YOU HELP ME FIND THE SHIRT IN THE WINDOW WITH THE POLKA DOTS??!" I screamed. "SORRY?!" She strained. It continued like this as we yelled back and forth. I utilized some pantomime at which point she finally understood and pointed me toward a table in the front where various denim items were folded in stacks. A second teenaged employee was there, folding and stacking. I finally saw The Shirt and as I reached for it, I noticed an adjacent pile of jean shorts. The top pair were so tiny that I did a double-take. Now, I know I live in LA where there are some seriously small ladies (and small sizes, accordingly), but these were itty bitty. Then I saw that they were a size 8. A size EIGHT. Not a size 0 or 00. Then it hit me.


"YES!" She said.




I stood there with my mouth agape. It all made sense now. She read my mind. "WERE YOU SHOPPING FOR YOURSELF?!" She asked/laughed. "YEP," I said. "I GUESS YOU COULD TRY TO FIT A DOUBLE XL!" She said (and I know she was mocking me). Laugh away, I thought. I started to give her a dirty look and then felt bad because A&F is probably the only place where young people are simultaneously acne-riddled and hearing-damaged.

I left the shirt on the table without refolding it and split outta there with all the vigor of youth.

Black Bean Soup
adapted from epicurious
serves 8

This soup will make you feel young! Or it will make you not care that you're old. It's that good:)

4 T olive oil
2 small-ish or 1 1/2 medium yellow onions
2 carrots
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 T minced jalapeño (take the ribs and seeds out before mincing unless you like it uber-spicy)
4 t ground cumin
1 large pinch kosher salt
4 15oz. cans black beans, undrained
2 15oz. cans roasted, diced tomatoes, undrained (I used the ones with green chiles added)
3 cups chicken broth

chopped green onions (white and light green parts and a little bit of the dark green parts too)
chopped cilantro
lime wedges
cotija cheese (or feta would be great)

Heat up the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and add the onions, carrots, garlic, jalapeño, cumin and salt. Sauté until soft, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the beans, tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Carefully transfer 6 cups of soup (in two batches) to a blender and puree. Add the puree back to the rest of the soup, stir well and taste for salt. Serve with lime wedges, green onions, cilantro, cotija, and lots of chips.



  1. Hi Jolie I've never been on your blog before (came here through Posie gets Cozy) and I love your photos and writing! I can't wait to try some recipes! Thanks for sharing your hobbies.
    Angela from WA

  2. Hard to follow your adventures in kids clothing stores when the yummy pictures were tempting me to scroll down to the recipe. Glad I held off and even more glad I have not been in the local mall in more than a decade. Supposed to be cool and grey this weekend so I think I will be making soup. Thanks.


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