BEST BLACK BEAN SOUP (2005)
305-446-6767 If you've never ventured inside Norman Van Aken's signature restaurant in Coral Gables, the black bean soup alone is worth the sojourn into his exquisite location in the City Beautiful. This traditional Latin-American dish is a vision of oily, rich perfection with its foundation of bacon, bell peppers, garlic, red onions, and chilies. The spices alone can invigorate the dullest of immune systems. Van Aken perfected his recipe in the late Seventies, abandoning classic French recipes that consisted of a bland base of leeks, carrots, celery, and white onions. Norman's black bean soup is served as an appetizer but is hearty enough for a simple main course. At $12.50, the soup is one of the more moderately priced yet finest items on the restaurant's menu. Norman's is open Monday through Thursday 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays 6:00 to 10:30 p.m.
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