Today, I felt like eating black bean soup. Over the years, I've perfected my recipe for black bean soup. I started with a recipe from the Westin Hotel in San Franciso, who make very delicious black bean soup. Years and years ago, the San Jose Mercury News ran their recipe and I made it - and I absolutely loved it. Then I couldn't resist tinkering with it, making it lenten, making it non-lenten. Everyone who eats my black bean soup really likes it, and I hope you will too! Its got a bit of a spicy bite to it, but it is not super hot - if you like it really hot, then you'll have to add hot sauce to your bowl. This will be waiting for us after vespers tonight. The house smells so good already!
Black Bean Soup
1 lb dry black beans, rinsed and picked over
3 quarts water
1 large onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 - 3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp allspice
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbs chili powder
1 1/2 tsp oregano
scant 1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp ground coriander
1 bay leaf
Basically, all you do is put everything in a pot, bring to a boil, and simmer for 2 - 3 hours until the beans are tender. I've got mine simmering in the crock pot on high, and will probably let it cook for 3 - 4 hours. When beans are tender, taste for salt, and then remove 1 1/2 cups of beans, puree, and add them back into the soup to thicken it.
Serve with lots of garnishes: sour cream, shredded cheese, minced onion, minced green pepper, olives, chopped cilantro, chopped tomato, hot sauce.
NOTES: If it is lent and you are making this vegan, try adding 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp of smoke flavoring to give it a kind of "ham" flavor. Its really a delicious addition. If it not lent, then add a cup of diced ham, or a ham hock to the soup. If using ham, do not add any salt until you taste the soup just before serving, because ham can be very salty. You just might not need any salt at all. This soup thickens up on the next day and makes a good filling for burritos.
Serves 4 to 6