This morning at breakfast, since I was in the kitchen preparing food for breakfast and lunches anyway, I started a pot of black bean soup for dinner. After simmering all morning, it was done by noon and now I don't have to worry about dinner for the rest of the day. I snuck a taste at lunch time and, after adjusting the seasonings, I'm going to give it a little more time to mellow. It'll be just right by dinner time, and even better the next day.
BLACK BEAN SOUP
Saute the following together in a big soup pot until onions are lightly browned:
- a couple of glugs of olive oil
- a 1/4 pound hunk of nitrite-free salt pork, leave whole (Avail at Whole Foods)*
- 1 red or yellow onion chopped
- 1 clove of garlic chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped finely
- 1 4 ounce can of fire-roasted diced green chilies
- 1 stalk of celery, halved lengthwise and chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig (2-4 small leaves) of fresh sage
- a palmful of ground cumin
- 8 cups of cold water
- about 2 cups of dried black beans, picked over and rinsed
Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Skim off any foamy impurities then cover and cook on low for about 3 hours, until beans are very tender. Remove bay leaves and sage sprig, then stick blend the soup (carefully avoiding the salt pork) until thick and chunky. Taste for salt and pepper. Remove salt pork and garnish each bowl with sliced green onions (and a dollop of sour cream) before serving.
*Optional for vegetarians, but it really does make the soup extra tasty. A strip or two of nitrite-free bacon will work, as will a ham hock, if you can't find the salt pork.