Sunday, January 25, 2009

Not Plain old Black Bean Soup

One easy soup I make about once a month is Black Bean soup. My recipe is a little more detailed than the ones I see around but it tastes better at least to me! It is easy to make and you can either use it for just plain old beans or puree it for a great soup.

Always wash and pick through the beans. About half the time I find small rocks or garbage in the bean sack. Some sources allow their beans to be dried on the ground on tarps so it is not uncommon to find stuff that is not 100% bean material, and besides if you use a food processor or immersion blender, one pebble can dull your sharp expensive blade pretty quick.

I find that soaking the beans does little for them, unless they happen to be very old bean, eh Old Bean?

After you have washed and picked through set aside.
Into the bowl of your food process toss in, chopped cilantro, onion, garlic and bell pepper. Blend until you have almost a puree.
In a large stockpot add the oil heat and toss in the puree, let it cook on medium for about 7 minutes. Add the cumin and oregano, stir to distribute. Add the washed beans, two quarts of chicken stock, 3 bay leaves and a smoked ham hock. If you don't have a ham hock, get one! Otherwise, toss in two cut up pieces of smoked bacon.
Now depending on your heat tolerance I will toss in a pepper or two.
Take a Serrano or a Habanero and cut it down the center straight down, do not remove the seeds. Toss that in, you will later remove it along with the bay leaves.

Cover and let simmer for 2 to 3 hours. If too much liquid has left the room, (like Elvis) just add a cup or two of water so that you are back to the same level you started with.

Remove the ham hock, let cool, throw the sink out, pick the meat off the bone , dice and return to the beans.

At this point you can do a couple of things, first fish out the pepper and bay leaves and discard.
If you drain the water which is tasty, you can just use the beans, otherwise continue on for soup.
Remove about 1/3 of the beans less the liquid, reserve.
With an immersion blender whirl away inside the pot, until fairly smooth.
Put back the beans, and add salt. This will be to YOUR taste. I usually will add about 1/2 a teaspoon. This will depend on if the used ham hocks or bacon, and how salty the chicken stock was. If you used a dry chicken soup base, etc,etc,etc.
That's it!

When serving I usually will top it with some sour cream, crema or yogurt. To make the crema, just zest the lime and mix with the cream stick it into a squeeze bottle and make a zigzag or logo on top of the soup after you have plated it in a bowl.

Stuff you will need.

1 lb of beans, a little more is OK.
1 large white onion chopped
5 garlic cloves with skin removed
1 green bell pepper
1 cup of cilantro chopped
4 TBS olive oil or vegetable oil
2 or 3 sprigs of fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp of dried
2 tbs ground cumin
1 large smoked ham hock
1 Serrano or Habanero Chile, split down the center
2 qts of chicken stock
Salt and Pepper
3 Bay leaves

For the Crema

1 Cup sour cream, plain yogurt or crema
zest of two limes
2 TBS of very finely chopped cilantro

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