Black Bean Soup

Black Bean SoupOK, so we’re done with all of the turkey leftovers, right? Normally, Thanksgiving ends with a boiled-down turkey carcass, a dish my cousin affectionately nicknamed “residue soup,” but this year, we did rolled, stuffed turkey breasts, so no bird bones to use up.  Still, it seemed like a good week for soup of some flavor.

We do lots and lots and lots and lots of soups in this household, especially once the weather turns cold. Not only are they hearty and healthy, but they are a very affordable meal offering as well–so consider this recipe my very own “fiscal cliff” preparedness plan!

1 lb dried black beans
3 strips of bacon (optional)
8 cups water
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium sized yellow onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon oregano
olive oil & crema or sour cream to garnish

I’ve got this thing with dried beans. I just about never pre-soak them. It increases my cooking time, but more often than not, I will start a dish like this in the morning, using a slow cooker, then I transfer the beans to a pot on the stove top when I get home at night to finish cooking. You do whatever you like, though, and adjust your cooking times accordingly.

Rinse the beans (removing rocks, etc.) and transfer to your cooking device of choice. Add in 8 cups of water and begin cooking.

Dice the bacon into small pieces and fry until crispy. Drain (most of) the fat and add the bacon to your bean pot. The bacon is optional–if you need a vegetarian version leave it out, though personally I have a hard time imagining this dish–or life, for that matter– without bacon.

When your beans are soft (8 hrs in a slow cooker; 2-1/2 hrs in a pot), heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a soup pot. Puree the green pepper, onion, and garlic in a blender or food processor, adding a small amount of the bean water if necessary. Add this puree to the soup pot and cook for two or three minutes. You can certainly saute the pepper, onion, and garlic as a fine mince, but as I have noted before, my kids prefer their pepper and onion hidden!

Now carefully transfer the cooked beans and cooking water into the soup pot. Add the salt and oregano, cover, and simmer over a low flame for another half hour.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a dollop of crema.

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