Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Black Bean Soup

Because of all the beans, this soup can end up thick, but it dilutes easily with a little chicken stock or water.

1 lb dried black beans
4 oz bacon
3 Tbs canola oil
1 large carrot
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
4 c chicken broth
1 Tbs sherry
1 Tbs sherry vinegar
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

1. Pick over the beans to remove any stones. Rinse well. Place in a stock pot and add 6 cups cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook for two minutes, then remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for 1 hour.Transfer the beans and their cooking liquid to a large bowl..

2. Finely dice the bacon. Wipe the stock pot dry with a paper towel. Add the canola oil and sauté the bacon over medium-low heat until the fat has rendered, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, finely dice the carrot and onion and mince the garlic. Once the bacon fat has rendered, add the carrot, onion, and garlic and sweat for 15 minutes.

3. Add the chicken stock, reserved beans, and bean water (there should be about 4 cups). Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1½–2 hours. Remove from the heat.

4. Once the soup has cooled a little, use an immersion blender or a food processor to puree to your desired consistency. Finish with sherry, sherry vinegar, Tabasco, salt, and pepper to taste. (The amounts listed above are merely suggestions.) Serve with garnishes such as chopped onion, cilantro, sour cream, or chopped hard-boiled egg.

• Replacing some of the chicken stock with beer or red wine gives the soup a richer flavor.

• To make a vegetarian version, omit the bacon and instead add a bit of dried chipotle pepper and some shaved dark chocolate to give the soup a deep, smoky tang. (Chipotles are smoked jalapeno peppers.)

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