Chili Soup

Lately I’ve been in a soup mood. It has nothing to do with the outside temperature (hovering around 100 degrees everyday), but how easy it is to make soup.

How easy it is to make soup, usually.

Lately, soup recipes have been giving me trouble. One is a Black Bean Chili recipe I got from my friend, S. She has made it for years, she said, and it is one of her favorites. It is vegan and it looked easy enough, so I decided to make it.

First time I made the Black Bean Chili recipe, I could have renamed it 5-Alarm Chili. My mouth was on fire and my eyes were watering. What had I done wrong? I checked the recipe and nothing seemed to be out of kilter with what I had put together. Well, not-out-of-kilter or not, there was no way I could eat that without cutting the heat. I ended up adding about five cups of water and three baked potatoes. This downgraded it to 3-alarm chili soup and I could eat it with only mild sweating.

The second time I made it, it was a déjà vu experience. Smoke was practically coming out of my ears. I verified my ingredients against the email S. sent me. What could explain this result? I then checked the online magazine where S. had found the recipe. Did I mention that jalapenos and cayenne pepper are two of the chili’s ingredients? I used two jalapenos, just as the recipe called for. But I was also using one teaspoon — one full teaspoon — of cayenne pepper, as S.’s email listed, but the online recipe called for only 1/8th of a teaspoon. Eight times the desired amount of cayenne pepper may possibly, sort of, probably, might, could, should explain the spiciness of the chili.

That’s what I thought until I made it yet a fourth time with only 1/8th of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. It was still 5-alarm chili. I have no idea what my issue is with this recipe. But I like it well enough to continue to make it and so I have adapted: I always have two or three potatoes ready to be nuked in the microwave and added in, to cut the heat. The original water amount is 3/4 of a cup, but each time I made it, I ended up with about 5 cups of water and now that’s the way I like it. So for me, it’s 3-Alarm Black Bean Chili Soup. That’s as good as it is going to get.


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