Black Bean Soup

I figure that any new recipe that I make twice in just over a week is worth a blog post.  A few months ago, I went through the stacks of cooking magazines that I had been hoarding and pulled out recipes that I wanted to try and got rid of the rest of them--yay for decluttering!  Anyway, this black bean soup finally made its way to our menu last week. 

Black Bean Soup
(from America's Test Kitchen Soups and Stews 2008 magazine)

1 pound (2 cups) dried black beans, picked over and rinsed
4 oz ham steak, trimmed of rind
2 bay leaves
5 cups water
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, chopped fine (about 3 cups)
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
3 med celery ribs, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1/2 tsp salt
5-6 med garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I used aleppo pepper)
1 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
6 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp lime juice

lime wedges
minced fresh cilantro leaves
finely diced red onion
diced avocado
sour cream

For the beans:
place beans, ham, bay leaves, water and baking soda in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Stir in salt, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer briskly until beans are tender, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hrs (if necessary, add another cup water and continue to simmer until beans are tender), do not drain the beans.  Discard bay leaves and remove ham steak (which has turned a very dark black color), cut into to 1/4 inch cubes and set aside.

For the soup:
Heat oil in an 8 quart Dutch oven over medium high heat and add onions, carrot, celery, and salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and lightly browned, 12-15 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic, pepper, and cumin; cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, 1-3 minutes (mine was fragrant closer to 1 minute, but the recipe says 3 minutes).  Stir in beans, bean cooking liquid, and chicken broth.  Increase heat to med-high and bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

To finish:
Ladle 1 1/2 cups beans and 2 cups liquid into food processor, process until smooth, and return to pot.  Alternatively, leave soup in pot and puree with hand blender to desired thickness.  Stir together cornstarch and water in small bowl until combined, then gradually stir into soup, bring to boil over med high, stirring occasionally, to fully thicken.  Off heat, stir in lime juice and reserved ham.

When I type it all out, it looks a little daunting, but I promise that it isn't and it is SO good.  The first time, I followed the recipe exactly, but tonight, I didn't have any celery, so I just added extra carrots.  And Micah requested more ham and so I probably used about 8 oz of a ham steak.  It was just as good tonight as it was last week.  I served it with sour cream and avocado since my family doesn't really like cilantro or red onion.

I tried taking pictures last week, but honestly, black bean soup is not that pretty, so you just have to trust me that this is good soup!


Vicky said…
I'm at eating a plate full of egg beaters right now and they are tasting a little bland as I read through the recipe! This sounds totally yummy and not too involved really. Thank you for sharing!
Christine said…
This sounds SO good! I'm definitely giving this a shot... thanks for sharing!!! (YUM!)

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