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Monday, May 2, 2011

Black Bean Soup

Yesterday, my plan was to pull the ham bone from Easter out of the freezer and make soup with it.  I went to get the bag of beans out and realized they were black, instead of the white that I thought they were.  Not what I had in mind, but I figured it would still work.  I happened to set the bag down on the counter upside down and saw that there was a recipe on the back.  I scanned through it and changed my game plan.  My intention was to get it started when the kids went down for a nap.  Best laid plans.  It's hard to lock yourself in the kitchen when it's the first sunny day in months.  I opted for playing in the dirt over chopping and dicing.  We ended up having pizza at my sister's house instead.  Short story long, I made the soup today.  The ham bone will wait.

Here's the recipe with my notes:

Black Bean Soup

1 lb dried black beans, cleaned and soaked as directed  (*see note)
1/2 lb bacon, diced (omit to make this soup vegetarian)
2 C diced carrots
2 C diced celery
2 C diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 tsp black pepper
8 C chicken or veggie broth (plus more if needed - I added about 4 cups of water as it cooked)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp lime juice
Sour cream, chopped tomatoes and cilantro, for serving, if desired

*I didn't soak the beans.  I never do.  But I'm also home all day, so I'm able to watch the pot for hours.  If you don't have that kind of time, soak your beans overnight.  Soaked beans can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.  If you need instant gratification, use canned beans.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp.  




Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat.  Add carrots, celery and onion.  Saute for 1 minute. 



Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes until veggies are soft, stirring occasionally.




Stir in garlic, cumin, thyme, oregano, bay leaf and pepper.  Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.




Stir in broth, tomato paste and beans.



Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until soup is thickened and beans are soft.  (Mine was in simmering mode at 1:30 and we ate at 6:00.  So between 5 and 5 1/2 hours if you don't soak the beans.)  Remove bay leaf.  Stir in lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Ladle into soup bowls.  Serve with toppings.

For toppers, I used diced bell pepper, cheddar cheese, sour cream, cilantro, avocado, jalapeno and hot sauce.  Deeeee-licious!!!

To make this vegetarian friendly, just omit the bacon and saute your veggies in olive oil instead.  Use the vegetable broth rather than chicken.  It would be just as good. 

We had it with cornbread.  A green salad would have been good too, but honestly, I didn't feel like making one.

Here it is in my bowl:






Shameless child plug alert -  I snapped action pics of The Kids setting the table:







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