I've been making black bean soup since I was in college. I've loved it ever since. During the winter our family has Soup Night at least once a week. Soup is warm, satisfying and comforting. And it's very easy to make.
But best of all, it's nourishing. Soup is one of the very best ways to get mineral-rich bone broth into your family's diet. Broth also helps to ease digestion.
You can increase the nutrient profile of this basic soup in a number of ways. Be sure to add some fermented foods and enzymes), such as a dollop of sour cream (a source of vitamin K2 if it's from grass-fed cows), using lard (vitamin D if from pastured pigs) or butter (A and K2, again) or bacon fat to get some extra good saturated fat into this soup, and of course all the fresh (hopefully organic or locally raised) vegetables.
This is a great meal for a family looking to stretch their food budget. You can buy bulk dried black beans very inexpensively.
Black Bean Soup
Things to Do Ahead
1. Soak beans (At least 12 hours ahead, but I recommend 24 hours)
2. Make the sour cream (at least 24 hours ahead)
Dried black beans (2 cups)
Water, filtered — where to buy
Whey, kefir, organic buttermilk or yogurt, or lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (2 TBS)
Bay leaves (2) — where to buy bay leaf
Chicken stock, homemade or organic chicken stock (11 cups or 88 oz)
Baking soda(1/8 tsp)
Sea salt (1 tsp)
Onions, large, organic (2)
Celery (3 stalks)
Garlic cloves (5-6)
Butter, lard, or bacon fat
Red pepper flakes (1/2 tsp)
Cumin, ground (1 1/2 TBS)
Ham steak from pastured pigs, trimmed of rind (8 oz)
Cornstarch (organic) or arrowroot (2 TBS)
Water, filtered — how to filter water
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Optional: Limes (1-2)
1. Put the dried beans in an enamelware stockpot or Dutch oven or glass bowl (not metal). Set on the stove on medium heat until the water is body temperature (but not hot to the touch so that it burns).
2. With a wooden spoon, stir in 2 TBS of whey (or use kefir, buttermilk, yogurt, raw apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice).
3. Cover and let sit a minimum of 12 hours (I like to let mine sit for 24 hours).
4. When you are ready to cook the soup, chop up the onions, carrot. Smash the garlic cloves.
5. Heat fat in large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrot, celery, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft (10-15 minutes).
6. Stir in garlic, pepper flakes, and cumin; until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
7. Add beans, bay leaves, 11 cups of chicken stock and baking soda.
8. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Skim any scum off as it rises to surface.
9. Stir in 1 tsp of sea salt, reduce heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer briskly until beans are tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
10. Ladle 1 1/2 cups beans and 2 cups liquid into food processor or blender, process until smooth, and return to pot. You can also just use a stick blender.
13. In a small bowl, stir together 2 TBS organic cornstarch and 2 TBS filtered water in small bowl until blended.
14. Stir about half of cornstarch mixture into soup; bring to boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, to fully thicken. If soup is still thin after boiling, stir remaining cornstarch mixture to recombine and gradually stir mixture into soup; return to boil to fully thicken.
15. Cut up the ham steak into small cubes and add to pot.
16. Turn off heat and stir in optional lime juice. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with dollops of sour cream and other desired garnishes (fermented salsa or sauerkraut).
Instead of ham steak, you may substitute in pastured bacon (preferably nitrate/nitrite free). You may also try leftover roast chicken or duck.
To thicken the soup, you need either cornstarch or arrowroot. You'll want to be sure to use organic cornstarch, as non-organic is most certainly made from GM (genetically modified) corn.
Serve with dollop of sour cream and/or guacamole, fermented salsa or sauerkraut. You could also grate some cheese on top.
I also like to serve with a loaf of sourdough bread and lots of butter. You could also serve with rice.
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Photo credit: Black Bean Soup by K. B. R. on Flickr