Black beans are a staple in Cuban and Latin American cooking. They are a flavorful source of vitamins and minerals and are incredibly easy to cook (because of their small size, you don't even need to soak them overnight as you do with other beans.) Black bean soups have become increasing popular in the United States, so much so that there are now countless recipes in existence. My recipe features all the flavors typically found in Cuban cooking: cumin, lime and oregano. Its topping of marinated rice, however, distinguishes it from all the other recipes out there. This versatile soup can be served during any season of the year. Serve with a crisp green salad and perhaps some warm flour tortillas on the side.
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for the marinated rice topping...
2 cups cooked rice
4 green onions, thinly sliced (including green tops)
1 tomato, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar or fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper

for the soup...
1 pound black beans, picked over and rinsed
2 bay leaves
5 cups water
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
5 cups vegetable stock
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or lime juice
salt and pepper

Cooking Instructions

To make the marinated rice, combine the first seven ingredients in a mixing bowl (if your rice has just been cooked, be sure to cool it to at least room temperature before combining with the other ingredients.) Season with salt and pepper to taste. Marinate for at least one hour or up to one day ahead (cover with plastic wrap and keep chilled in the refrigerator overnight; bring to room temperature before serving.)

Place the beans, bay leaves, water and baking soda in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the salt, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the beans are tender (1 to 1-1/2 hours.) Discard the bay leaves and set the cooked beans aside (do not drain.)

Heat the olive oil in a 5-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and the carrots are softened (about 5 minutes.) Add the stock, cumin, oregano, vinegar or lime juice, and black beans along with their cooking liquid. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, adding more stock if a thinner soup is desired. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve the soup in bowls topped with spoonfuls of the marinated rice.

Makes 6 servings



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elliemay's blog

This soup recipe has a very unusual ingredient - baking soda! I read that cooking the beans with a touch of baking soda helps retain their dark color so I gave it a shot. Lo and behold, it actually did keep my soup from turning a dull gray color! Partially pureeing the soup with a hand blender also seems to help liven up the color a bit.

Unlike many dried beans, black beans are small enough that you don't really need to soak them overnight before cooking as in this recipe. If you have the forthought, however, you can soak them overnight to shorten the cooking time the next day.

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