Beans, when dried, last for an incredibly long time. They have been carried all over the world, and have found their way into local dishes throughout Europe, the Americas, and Africa.
As expected, there are almost as many ways to make this soup as there are people to cook it.
- 1 cup dried black beans
- 1 or 2 dried, smoked ham hocks (You can substitute bacon or ham if you wish)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 T tomato paste
- 1 t ground allspice
- 1 t ground mace
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- Salt, pepper, and chili pepper to taste
- Put the beans in a casserole dish or deep saucepan with the ham hocks and cover with water. Simmer for 2-3 hours until hocks and beans are tender.
- Remove the hocks and cut the meat from the bone. Discard the skin and fat. Save the bones for Bone Soup. Cut meat into small pieces and return to the pot.
- Add garlic, tomato paste, allspice, mace, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Simmer for thirty minutes and adjust seasoning if necessary. Liquid should be about 3-4 cups, add water if you need more (or if you’d like a thinner soup)
- Pour into bowls and sprinkle diced cilantro on top.
- Take half (or all) of the beans and smash them or put them through a blender for a thicker soup.
- Just about any bean can be used, though black is traditional; navy, pinto, red, even black-eyed peas.
- At step 4, and 4 cups of small cubed (1/2” or less) yam or pie pumpkin. Soup is done when yams are soft (you may need to add water as they will absorb it)
- (a personal favorite) Float a small amount (1 T or less) of sour cream before adding the cilantro.
- (Another favorite) instead of cilantro, slice a lime very thin and float a few wedges. Add a sprinkle of juice.