In a food processor, briefly pulse the garlic and onions, so vegetables are chopped small, but not mushy. Then in the same way, pulse chopped carrots, celery and peppers. Do so in batches, if necessary.
In a generous soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped garlic, onions, carrots, celery and peppers. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables start to soften. Add cumin, chili powder and paprika. Stir in tomato puree, black beans and 2 cups of the vegetable broth or water. Drop in bay leaf. Reduce heat to low, cover with a lid, and let mixture simmer for about 30 minutes, or until everything is nice and tender and the flavors starting to meld.
I like a black bean soup with some chunky bits and texture. If you prefer a smoothier, creamier soup, blitz briefly with an immersion blender, until you reach a consistency. If it’s too thick for your taste, add the remaining cup of water or vegetable broth.
Splash in the sherry and sherry or apple cider vinegar, season generously with sea salt and pepper.
Garnish with chopped cilantro.