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Smoky Black Bean Soup
“This will probably be the most hauntingly delicious black bean soup you've ever tasted. The coffee adds a slightly toasty, woodsy background note. The optional ham hock adds smoky, salty ham flavor. Serve with a mixed green salad or a grilled cheese sandwich with pickled jalapeños. Recipe by Joyce Hendley for EatingWell.”
1 pound dried black beans (2 cups)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped, ⅓ 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
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
6 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream or plain Greek yogurt for garnish
1Pick 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.
2Heat oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add all but ⅓ cup of the onions, bell pepper, celery, jalapeno 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, 1¼ to 1½ hours. If using, remove the ham hock and set it aside to cool; remove the bay leaf. Stir in salt.
3Puree 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.
4Serve the soup garnished with the reserved chopped onion, a dollop of sour cream (or yogurt) and cilantro, if desired.
Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 3, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days; thin with a little water if necessary after reheating.