Monday, January 14, 2013

Cuban Black Bean Soup

Hurrah, more soup!  This time of year just seems to be the perfect time to whip up all the amazing soup recipes I keep seeing out on the interwebs.  This one caught my eye because it's hearty enough that Bo doesn't grimace over the lack of meat.  But it's also dirt cheap to put together a huge pot of it.  Win win, am I right?

And once you get the black beans set to soaking, this soup comes together in no time at all.  It's fabulous to slow cook on a Sunday afternoon.  The bonus is that with all the leftovers, you'll have an easy lunch to pack with you all week.

This soup is deliciously hearty without feeling heavy, and that vinegar in the recipe below gives it a unique - and welcome - tang.  If the vinegar is too much for your liking, you can cut it back to 1/4 cup.  But the flavor does mellow as it sits in the fridge, so give it another try the next day before you cut the vinegar back too much when you make it again.  We've had this soup twice in the past month, and we devoured it both times.  It's definitely one I'll be making throughout the fall and winter months.

Happy Monday?

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Mrs. Garcia's Black Bean Soup
adapted from theKitchn

1 lb. dried black beans

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ham bone or smoked ham hock
1/2 c. olive oil
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/3 c. white or cider vinegar

The night before cooking the soup, place beans in a colander and wash them with cold running water. Pick out any rocks or beans that are broken or shriveled. Put the beans in a large (4 quarts or larger) Dutch oven or soup pot with a lid and cover with enough cold water so that it comes to 1" above the top of the beans. Soak overnight.

The next day, drain the water out of the pot and refill with clean cold water. Add enough water so that it comes to 1" above the beans. Stir in the chopped onion, pepper, and garlic. Add the ham bone or hock, and stir in the olive oil. Add salt and black pepper.

Bring to a boil over high heat. Skim off any white foam, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 4 to 5 hours, until the beans are very soft and the soup is creamy, not watery. Check after 2 hours - if the beans seem dry or stewy, add another cup of water. The final consistency should be velvety and thick. (The beans will soften in the first two hours. The goal is to continue cooking the soup until some of the beans break down and create the smooth, thick soup base.)

Stir in the vinegar and simmer for an additional 15 minutes, uncovered.

Optional:  Serve over rice and/or garnish with chopped raw onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, or sour cream.  Makes 6 generous servings.

         Click here for a printable version of this recipe

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