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Black Bean Soup

1 lb Dried black turtle beans
1/3 c Diced salt pork OR bacon
2 tb Olive oil
1/2 c Diced smoked ham
2 c Finely chopped onions
2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 c Beef broth, homemade or canned
8 c Water
1 lg Bay leaf
1 sm Onion, peeled, studded with 2 whole cloves
1 pn Leaf oregano, crumbled
1 pn Ground hot red pepper
2 ts Red-wine vinegar
2 tb Dry sherry
1/4 ts Ground black pepper


Garnish:
1/4 c Finely chopped smoked ham
1 lg Green onion, finely chopped
1 Hard-cooked egg, chopped
1 Lime, thinly sliced


SOUP:


Soak the beans overnight in cold water to cover. OR place in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to boiling and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand for 1 hour, covered. Drain. Cook the salt pork in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper toweling.


Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the salt pork and ham; cook, stirring, for 8 minutes. Add the onion and garlic: cook for 5 minutes. Add the drained beans to the pot; stir well. Add the broth, 4 cups water, bay leaf, onion studded with cloves and the oregano. Bring to boiling. Lower heat and gently simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add remaining water as the liquid cooks off.


Discard the whole onion and bay leaf. Remove more than half of the beans with a slotted spoon to a food processor. Process to a smooth puree, adding soup liquid as necessary. Stir the puree back into the soup. Add the hot red pepper, vinegar, sherry and black pepper. Continue cooking until the soup becomes quite thick, about 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with garnishes of smoked ham, green onion, hard-cooked egg, and lime on the side.


Makes 10 servings.

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