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Aunt Sadie's Cuban Black Bean Soup

(recipe, Anthony Boutard)

Introduction

Sadie Colligan is a Cuban friend of my wife's late mother. Colligan's version of the classic Cuban black-bean soup is still stuffed in our recipe shoebox, on a yellowed, typewritten page. The soup is a meal in itself, served over rice with minced raw onion, olive oil, and vinegar. We had this soup for Christmas dinner. Every so often, we ponder an embellishment for the recipe, but the original is so satisfying and simple that the very thought of tucking into it checks any creative notions. In deference to Colligan, we even go through the unnecessary step of soaking the beans. She did allow for some "optional" sausage, and Pastaworks has a particularly nice andouille sausage, so we add that to the sofrito when we have it on hand. The leftover soup can also be put through a sieve, thinned a bit with water, and then served hot, garnished with some chopped hard-boiled egg, sour cream, and a squeeze of lemon. In this more refined guise, Cubans serve it as the soup course of lunch.

Ingredients

    Soup
    1. 1 lb. black turtle beans
    2. 2 smoked pork hocks
    3. 2 to 3 green bell peppers, chopped
    4. 2 large onions, chopped
    5. ¼ lb. salt pork
    6. 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
    7. 2 links andouille sausage, sliced (optional)
    8. 1 8.0 oz. can tomato paste
    9. 2 tsp. oregano
    10. 1 bay leaf, crumbled
    11. Salt and pepper to taste
    12. 1 Tbsp. sugar
    Garnishes
    1. White rice
    2. Chopped raw onions
    3. Olive oil
    4. Vinegar

    Steps

    1. Soak the beans overnight in 10 to 12 cups of water.
    2. The next day, bring the beans to a boil and then simmer them for 2 to 3 hours with the smoked meat, 1 bell pepper, and 1 onion. When done, the beans should mash easily with a fork.
    3. Make the sofrito: Dice and fry the salt pork. In the pork fat, sauté the garlic and the remaining onion and green pepper. (Add the andouille sausage here, if using.) Add the tomato paste and cook for a few minutes. Add the oregano.
    4. Add the sofrito, bay leaf, salt, and pepper to the beans. Bring to a boil and simmer in a covered saucepan for 1½ hours. Add more water if necessary; keep it soupy. When the cooking is done, add the sugar and mash the beans with a fork or potato masher until the soup is creamy.
    5. Serve in soup bowls over a mound of white rice. Chopped raw onions, olive oil, and vinegar are traditional garnishes.