Munchy Monday: Smoky Black Bean Soup

My mom is always subscribing to cooking magazines for me, which I love.  One of the ones I get is Eating Well.  I got the most recent issue on Saturday, and it had this recipe.  I made this for dinner tonight and it is GOOD.  Black beans are high in fiber and fat free.  Black beans have more antioxidants than any other kind of bean, and one serving contains 20% of your daily iron.  Dealing with dried beans is actually very easy, but if it seems like too much work to you just substitute canned and you can decrease your cooking time.  I combined all the ingredients in my crock pot and let it cook for about 5 hours, then took a stick blender to it.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound dried black beans (2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped, 1/3 cup reserved for garnish
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 large stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups brewed coffee
  • 1 ham hock (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
  • 6 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream or plain Greek yogurt for garnish
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

PREPARATION

  1. Pick over beans; rinse well. Place in a large bowl with cold water to cover by 2 inches. Let soak for at least 6 hours or overnight. (Or use the quick-soak method: Cover the beans with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil; simmer 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 1 hour.) Drain.
  2. Heat oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add all but 1/3 cup of the onions, bell pepper, celery, jalapeño and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are beginning to brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add cumin and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Add the beans, water, coffee, ham hock (if using) and bay leaf; cover and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Skim off any foam that rises to the top, reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the beans are very tender, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. If using, remove the ham hock and set it aside to cool; remove the bay leaf. Stir in salt.
  3. Puree about half of the soup in a blender or food processor until fairly smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Return the pureed soup to the pot and heat through. If desired, cut meat off the ham hock, trim away any fat and chop the meat into small pieces; stir back into the soup.
  4. Serve the soup garnished with the reserved chopped onion, a dollop of sour cream (or yogurt) and cilantro, if desired.