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Black Bean Soup

1 lb Black turtle beans
2 lg Ham hocks, stripped of all visible fat
4 t Extra light olive oil with a dash of sesame oil
2 lg Yellow onions, peeled and diced
4 Cloves garlic
3 qt Water (or good beef stock)
1/2 t Freshly ground black pepper
1 pn Cayenne pepper
4 t Ground cummin seed
4 Sprigs of oregano
3 Bay leaves
1 md Red bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 T Fresh chopped parsley
1 T Brown sugar
1 T Freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 t Orange zest
1 c Strained yogurt mixed with
1 t Chopped cilantro


The night before making this splendid soup, place the black beans in a bowl of water and let them soak overnight.


Blanch the ham hocks by putting them in a medium saucepan with enough cold water to cover and bring to the boil. Pour off the water and rinse out the pan. In a 10 inch diameter Dutch oven, or high-sided casserole pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and saute the onions and garlic.


Rinse and drain the black beans thoroughly. Pour them into the pot and place the ham hocks in the center. This allows the bean flavor to be evenly "en-hocked!"


Cover with the water or stock, add the freshly ground black pepper and stir in the cayenne, 1 tablespoon of the cumin seed, the oregano and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Now remove the ham hocks and bay leaves, setting the ham haocks aside in a medium sized bowl and discarding the bay leaves.


Remove 1 cups of beans from the soup, along with 1 cups of the cooking liquid adn puree these in a food processor. Pour this mixture through a sieve, into a large bowl. With a wooden spoon, push the beans through the sieve. Pour the puree back into the pot and discard the residue in the sieve.


Chop approximately 1 cups of the lean ham lock meat into very small chunks and toss them back into the soup.


In a hot, small saucepan stir the remaining olive oil with the red pepper, parsley, the remaining cumin seed and the brown sugar. Mix in the lemon juice and orange zest and stir into the hot soup. What a fabulous aroma!


Take the soup to the table with the yogurt-cilantro mixture on the side.


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