Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Place unpeeled plantains on a baking sheet and rub with 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast plantains in oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until skin is blackened and flesh is softened somewhat. While plantains are still warm, trim ends and peel fruit (you may need gloves or a dishtowel if plantains are still very hot). Cut plantains into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
In a heavy saucepan sauté onion, carrot and cumin in remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil until softened and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add plantains and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Skim surface of soup if necessary, lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the plantains are very tender, about 20 minutes.
In a food processor or blender purée the mixture in batches until smooth and season with Essence, salt and pepper to taste. Return the soup to the pot keep warm until ready to serve. When serving, top each portion with 2 tablespoons of the Black Bean Salsa and several smoked shrimp.
Yield: 6 servings (about 8 cups)
BLACK BEAN SALSA:
In a mixing bowl, combine the ingredients, seasoning to taste with cayenne and salt. Cover and let blend for 1 hour before serving.
*The jalapeno seeds can be added for a spicier Salsa.
Yield: about 1 1/2 cups