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Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup

Black bean soup is definitely one of the favorites around here, and is the soup most requested by other family members and friends who are coming over for dinner. There are quite a few recipes around, including those on the bag the beans come in, but I think if you start with this one, you will probably find it hard to beat.

You can make this soup in a crock pot, in a pot in the oven, or in a pot on the stove. I'll tell you about all three, and you can use what fits your schedule.

In the photo, I've served the soup garnished with sour cream, salsa, and chopped fresh cilantro.

Black beans come both canned and dried in the stores. This recipe for black bean soup is based on the dried beans that you buy in a one pound (two cup) bag.

If you want to purchase black beans for something other than soup, consider buying Bush's black beans. That's what I use when we just want beans, either as a side dish, or as an ingredient in some other dish, like Southwestern Salad, for example.

You can make this as a meatless dish, if you wish, but most often it includes some form of ham. You can use a ham hock, a leftover ham bone, or just buy a ham steak. I think the ham steak provides the best flavor for the soup. Buy an 8 ounce ham steak, use some diced for the soup, and use the rest for breakfast or a ham sandwich.

Here's the recipe for Black Bean Soup.

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 large red onion
    1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
    1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
    6 garlic cloves, minced
    4 teaspoons ground cumin
    1 teaspoon epazote (optional)
    1 16 ounce bag of dried black beans
    2 tablespoons minced canned chipotle peppers
    6 cups water
    1 cup beef broth
    1 tablespoon sugar
    ham hock or ham steak
    2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    2 teaspoons salt
    black pepper
    Tabasco (or other hot sauce)
    1/2 cup sour cream
    chopped tomato or salsa
    chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a skillet (if you are going to use a crock pot) or in the soup pot. Add the onions and the bell peppers and cook for 10 minutes. Add the garlic, epazote, and cumin, stir, and cook for another couple of minutes. If you're using a crock pot, dump the sautéed vegetables into the pot.

Add the beans, chipotles, water, broth, and sugar. Add the ham hock or the ham steak cut into two or three large pieces. For the crock pot, cook on high for six hours or on low for 8-10 hours. If putting the pot in the oven, cook at 200 degrees F all day. If you're cooking on top of the stove, simmer the soup for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the beans are tender.

After the soup is done, remove the ham, ham bone, or ham hock and let them cool enough to handle. Cut the meat off the hock or bone, cut it into little pieces, and return it to the soup. Or chop the steak into small pieces and put it back into the soup.

Before serving, use either a potato masher or a hand blender to puree some of the beans to thicken the soup a little. Add salt, pepper, lime juice, and Tabasco to taste.

Serve the soup garnished with the sour cream, tomato or salsa, and chopped cilantro.


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