Servings: Makes 6 servings
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and jalapeño. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until it gives off its aroma, about 1 minute.
Stir in the beans and broth. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and partially cover the pot. Simmer for 30 minutes. During the last 5 minutes, stir in the sherry, if using.
In batches, transfer the soup to a blender, process until smooth, and pour the puréed soup into a large bowl. (If you have an immersible hand blender, you can purée the soup right in the pot.) Season the soup with salt and pepper.
Serve the soup hot, with bowls of the salsa, sour cream, and cilantro passed on the side so each person can add whatever toppings they like.
From the Fall 2004 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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