This is my basic bean recipe, which is great eaten as soup with a slice of peasant bread or a good tortilla.
All you really need to make black bean soup is garlic, dried black beans, salt, cumin, some form of grease and, yes, an onion. Oh, and time. You need some time. Ideally, you will also have chilies, chipotle powder, cilantro or parsley, sour cream, cheese, epazote, bacon grease or chorizo, chicken stock … The list goes on, but you really can make a good pot of beans with the first six ingredients I listed. Cooking time varies depending on soaking time and the quality and freshness of the beans; it should be between 3 and 5 hours, but requires very little supervision. Just don’t add salt until the beans are already soft, because salting the beans early will slow down the cooking process and can ruin the experiment entirely. For maximum flavor, cook beans the day before, store in a cool place, and then reheat. Leftover black beans make a nutritious anchor for at least a dozen other simple dishes, including nachos, tacos, burritos, bisque, spread and gallo pinto.
- 2 cups of dried black beans
- 10 cups of water
- 4 cups of chicken stock (optional, can be replaced with water)
- 4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- 2 teaspoons of cumin
- 2 teaspoons of chile powder (preferably chipotle)
- 2 dried chiles or 1 fresh chile (slit the fresh chile and put it in the pot whole)
- 2 tablespoons of bacon grease (you can use olive oil instead, or substitute the grease with actual bacon or chorizo)
- sour cream and chopped red cabbage for garnish
- ½ cup of cilantro or parsley (optional)
- Soak beans for a few hours or overnight and drain. (You can do without soaking the beans, but the cooking time will be longer.)
- Put 10 cups of water, garlic, cumin, chile powder, chiles, the onion and the bay leaf in a large pot (preferably cast iron).
- Bring water to a boil, and then turn down to a low simmer. Simmer until the beans are soft. If fluid runs low during this time, add a little more hot water.
- Add bacon grease and/or meat, and stock. If you have parsley or cilantro, add that now, saving some for the garnish. Simmer for another hour or so.
- Salt to taste, and purée if desired.
- If you have time, let beans cool down for several hours or overnight, and then reheat to serve. Serve beans in broth, topped with sour cream and garnished with chopped red cabbage and parsley or cilantro.