The weather in Denver has been a bit strange lately. It snowed last Wednesday and the temps are still pretty chilly. I had a ham bone tucked away in the back of my freezer so I decided to make a bean soup. I checked pantry to see what types of dried beans I had on hand. I went with black beans but this can really be made with your choice of beans or even split peas or lentils.
To soak or not to soak? The soaking of dried beans is a controversial subject. Some people do it and some people do not. The other question is: To salt or not to salt? I salt at the end because my mom said so. I personally like the quick hot soak method. I sort and rinse the beans, boil for few minutes, turn off the heat, let them sit about an hour and then another rinse.
Some people simply toss the beans in with the soup stock. I would recommend at least rinsing and scrubbing the beans first. Who knows what sort of grime is stuck on the exterior?
Another method I’ve read about is the oven method. It involves preheating the oven to a pretty low temp, bringing the beans to a boil on the stovetop and then 90 minutes in the oven.
Black Bean Soup
1 pound dried black beans 1 teaspoon oil ½ onion, diced 1 clove garlic, minced ¼ cup sofrito ¼ cup recaito water 1 ham bone or 2 ham hocks or 1 smoked turkey drumstick, remove meat from the bone and set aside 1 bay leaf 1 teaspoon cumin ¼ teaspoon Mexican oregano salt pepper cilantro, chopped
1. Sort through beans and discard any debris or stones. Thoroughly wash beans with cold water. Transfer to a medium pot and cover 2 inches with water. Bring beans to a boil, boil 2-3 minutes and turn off heat. Allow to sit, covered for 1 hour. 2. Heat a medium dutch oven; add oil when hot. When oil is heated - add garlic and onions. Saute about a minute. Add sofrito and recaito. Saute another minute. 3. Drain and rinse soaked beans. 4. Add water, ham bone, beans and bay leaf to dutch oven. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a medium boil. Cook until beans are soft. 5. Remove ham bone. Add ham and season with salt, pepper, cumin and oregano. Serve with cilantro.