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Black beans have come to be associated with Latin dishes, and this soup is no exception. A rich, dark soup, redolent of cumin and chili and chunky with beans and vegetables, this was a favorite of our taste-testers -- particularly since the temperature outside was –7°F the day we served it! The cooling lime garnish really sets off the smooth (but spicy) flavor of the soup.
1 pound package (2 cups) dried black beans
3 quarts water
1 ham bone OR ham or 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups (11 1/4 ounces) onion, diced (2 medium onions)
1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) celery, diced (3 to 4 stalks)
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) red pepper, diced (1 medium pepper)
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) green pepper, diced (1 medium pepper)
1 1/2 cups prepared salsa (16-ounce jar, use mild, medium or hot, your choice)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 cup (10 ounces) diced ham
Lime Sour Cream
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon lime zest
3 tomatillos (2 1/2 to 3 ounces), peeled, finely diced and drained*
3 tablespoons dried minced onions
1/8 teaspoon salt
*You should be able to find these in the produce section of your supermarket. If you can't find them, just leave them out.
Soup: Wash the beans according to the directions on the package. Put them into a large pot and cover them with the 3 quarts of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove the pot from the heat and set it aside for 1 hour. After 1 hour, add the ham bone and bay leaf. (If you're using the bouillon cubes, don't add them till directed below. Salt -- a main ingredient in bouillon -- added too soon during cooking toughens the skin on the beans.)
Bring the soup to a slow simmer over medium heat, and simmer it for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the beans are tender. Remove the ham bone, if you used it. Remove about 2 cups of the beans, and either mash or blend them into a paste. Return the mashed beans to the pot, and continue to simmer, uncovered, until the soup has thickened.
While the soup is simmering, saute the diced vegetables in the oil until the onions are translucent. Add the sauteed vegetables, salsa, garlic, seasonings, bouillon cubes (if you're using them) and the diced ham to the soup, and bring it to a boil. It'll be quite thick; add a small amount of water if needed to thin slightly. Simmer the soup for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
Lime Sour Cream: While the soup is simmering, prepare the garnish. Mix the sour cream, lime juice, lime zest, tomatillos, minced onions and salt together. The mixture will be quite runny due to the liquid remaining in the tomatillos, but will thicken after sitting for an hour or so. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Ladle the soup into bowls, and top it with a dollop of lime sour cream, more salsa, some avocado slices, and a sprig of cilantro, if you like. Yield: about 12 servings.
Nutrition information per serving (1 1/4 cups soup with 1 tablespoon garnish, 308g): 151 cal, 6g fat, 8g protein, 17g complex carbohydrates, 5g dietary fiber, 15mg cholesterol, 783mg sodium, 433mg potassium, 139RE vitamin A, 33mg vitamin C, 2mg iron, 84mg calcium, 161mg phosphorus.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XI, No. 2, Winter 2000 issue.