Soak black beans in water; then, cook them with garlic, sweet onion, olive oil, and pepper, and they rise well above the common into the culinary sublime — black-bean soup, a beloved staple of Latino food cultures. One of the best treatments of black-bean soup I’ve had recently was at Jennifer Lopez’s restaurant, Madre’s (897 Granite Dr.; 626-744-0900), in Pasadena, California, where it’s best ordered with a side of fried plantains and a bowl of white rice.

here are some other restaurants around the u.s. where black-bean soup works its powerful magic:
atlanta: mambo restaurant cubano, 1402 n. highland ave., (404) 876-2626
chicago: nacional 27, 325 w. huron st., (312) 664-2727
houston: américas, 1800 post oak blvd., (713) 961-1492
miami: versailles, 3555 s.w. eighth st., (305) 444-0240