I haven't been posting lately because I've been making tried-and-true recipes the last few weeks that I've ever already posted here or are so boring, they're really not worth sharing with the world. (Example: roasting broccoli in the oven. Delicious, but do we really need a recipe for that? No.)
This recipe comes from Simply Recipes, but I make it meat-free and it turns out really nice. I've never tried it with the ham hocks called for in the original, but after a traumatic experience using ham hocks in split pea a few years ago, I was pretty turned off from trying to incorporate them into this recipe. When I made this recipe last summer when I was back in California for a few days, I fried up a few pieces of bacon, drained off the oil, and began cooking the vegetables with a mix of the bacon fat and olive oil, then added the bacon back to the soup after it was finished, almost as more of a garnish than anything else. It is a nice addition, but not necessary.
Here's a super fantastic, low fat, healthy and delicious black bean soup. Quite economical, too.
Black Bean Soup
1 lb black beans
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
2 bay leaves
2 tsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 sweet potato, diced
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground chili powder
1 red bell pepper (you can swap out green if you're really looking to save money, but the red is prettier)
2 cups chicken stock
1 - 2 limes
In a large pot, soak black beans overnight. (Or, if you'd like to speed up the cooking process, add about 8 cups of hot water, cover, bring to a boil, then turn off heat and let sit for 1 hour.) Rinse the beans and add back into the pot with the salt, baking soda and bay leaves. Cook for 1.5 hours. Remove from heat (and pot, if you only have one to use), reserving their cooking liquid, minus the bay leaves.
Over medium heat, add olive oil to a large pot. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and sweet potato. Cook for about 15 minutes, then add the cumin and chili powder. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the cooked beans, sweet potato and chicken stock, and simmer for about 1/2 hour.
Allow soup to cool slightly, and purée half the soup. Add the purée back into the soup and add the juice of a lime (or more, depending on taste preference, about 3 tablespoons should do it).
Garnish with cilantro, sour cream and avocado if desired.