Another great recipe from Cook's Illustrated. This is a nice compromise between the thin-watery soup and the thick-chunky version. Be sure to offer a garnish or two; they not only add taste, but texture and color to the soup.
- 2 cups dried black beans, rinsed and picked over
- 4 ounces ham steaks, trimmed of rind
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 5 cups water
- 1⁄8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups onions, chopped fine (2 large onions)
- 1 large carrot, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 3 medium celery ribs, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon table salt
- 5 -6 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon chipotle pepper, seeded and minced
- 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (from chipotle chili can)
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons lime juice (1-2 limes)
- 2 limes, for lime wedges
- 1 bunch minced fresh cilantro
- 1 medium red onion, finely diced
- diced avocado
- sour cream
- For the Beans:.
- Place bean, ham, bay leaves, water and baking soda in large saucepan with tight-fitting lid.
- Bring to boil over medium-high heat; using large spoon, skim scum as it rises to surface.
- Stir in salt, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer briskly until beans are tender, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours (if necessary, add additional cup of water and continue simmering until beans are tender); do not drain beans.
- Discard bay leaves.
- Remove ham steak (which has taken on a weird black bean color), cut into 1/4 inch cubes and set aside.
- For the Soup:.
- Heat oil in 8 quart dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking; add onions, carrot, celery and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and lightly browned, 12-15 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic and cumin; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in beans, beans cooking liquid, chipotle chili, adobo sauce and chicken broth.
- Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 30 minutes.
- To finish the soup: Ladle 1 1/2 cups beans and 2 cups liquid into food processor or blender; process until smooth, and return to pot.
- Stir together cornstarch and water in small bowl until combined, then gradually stir about half of the cornstarch mixture into the soup; bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, to fully thicken.
- If soup is still thinner than desired once boiling, stir remaining cornstarch mixture to recombine and gradually stir mixture into soup, return to boil to fully thicken.
- Remove from heat and stir in lime juice and reserved ham.
- Ladle into bowls and pass garnishes.