Cuban Black Bean Soup

Yield: 8+ servings (this freezes well)

Ingredients:

1 pound dried black beans

Approximately 5 cups of water, chicken, or veggie stock


1 medium onion, finely chopped


1 bell pepper, any color(s),finely chopped


3 cloves garlic, minced


½ tsp dried oregano, Mexican preferred

¼ tsp cumin

Pinch of red pepper flakes, is desired

1/2 cup Flying Olive Garlic, Cilantro and Roasted Onion, Chipotle Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or Flying Olive Single Varietal of Choice or a combination


1 tsp salt

Freshly ground black pepper


2-3 cups cooked, chopped ham, optional

2-? Tbsp of Flying Olive Oregano or Jalapeño White Balsamic Vinegar

To garnish:

Cheese, avocado, salsa or fresh tomatoes, crushed tortilla chips, chopped raw onion, chopped, fresh cilantro, chopped red pepper, sour cream

Directions:

The night before cooking the soup, place beans in a colander and wash them with cold running water. Pick out any rocks or beans that are broken or shriveled. Put the beans in a large (4 quarts or larger) Dutch oven or soup pot with a lid and cover with enough cold water so that the water comes to one inch over the top of the beans. Soak overnight.

The next day, drain the water out of the pot and refill with clean cold water, chicken, or veggie stock. Add enough liquid so that it comes to an inch above the beans. Stir in the chopped onion, pepper, garlic, oregano, and stir in the Flying Olive EVOO or combination of choice and, if desired, a pinch of red pepper flakes. Add the salt and a generous quantity of black pepper.

Bring the beans to a boil over high heat. Skim off any white foam, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Check after 2 hours. The beans should be fairly soft at this point. If the beans seem dry or stew-like, add another cup of water or broth. Simmer for a total of 4 to 5 hours. The soup should start to get creamy, not watery. Continue cooking the soup until some of the beans break down and create a smooth, thick soup base. (If the beans are not breaking down after the total cooking time, place them in a food processor with some of the liquid. Place a clean dish towel over the opening so as not to burn yourself. Blend until smooth. Repeat the process until most of the beans have been blended. Return them to the pot.) Add more water or broth to make the soup the consistency you like.

When the soup is nearly finished, stir in 2 Tbsp of Flying Olive White Balsamic Vinegar and the chopped, cooked ham, if desired. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes, uncovered. Taste and add more balsamic, salt, and pepper to taste. Garnish, if desired. Serve.

Submitted by Barb L.