What makes this hearty soup perfect for entertaining is how easily it can be customized with garnishes. Using dried beans is worth the effort. Set out bowls of cilantro, chopped onion and crumbled queso fresco or sour cream for guests to help themselves.
Servings: 6 - 8
- 1 pound dried black beans (or three 15-ounce cans of black beans, drained and rinsed)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
- 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 smoked ham hocks (may substitute smoked turkey parts)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock or water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Chopped cilantro leaves, chopped red onion and crumbed queso fresco (or feta cheese or sour cream) for garnish
In a large bowl or pot, add enough cold water to cover the beans and set aside for 4 hours. (Omit this step if you're using canned beans.)
In a large, heavy pot over medium-low heat, heat the oil. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, cumin and coriander and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Season with pepper.
Meanwhile, drain the beans, discarding the liquid, and add them to the pot along with the ham hocks and bay leaf. Add the stock or water, increase the heat to medium-high and bring almost to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the beans are quite tender, 2 to 3 hours.
Remove the pot from the heat. Remove and discard the bay leaf; remove the ham hocks and set aside. Cool the soup for at least 10 minutes.
Carefully ladle half the soup, including half the beans, into a blender. Holding the lid in place with a kitchen towel, blend until smooth, then stir the puree back into the soup remaining in the pot. Taste and, if desired, season with salt. (May keep warm over low heat, stirring occasionally, for up to a couple of hours, or you may cover and refrigerate overnight and rewarm over low heat.)
To serve, if desired, shred the meat from the ham hocks and add to the soup. Serve the soup hot, with bowls of cilantro, onion and crumbled queso fresco for garnish.
From Ed Bruske.
Tested by Ed Bruske.
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