Crock-pot Black Bean Soup

I am not warm. It's definitely a crock-pot day, and I'm trying this recipe for the very first time. Since I made it up in my head. =) But I'm extremely optimistic, and cold. Keep your fingers crossed, will report back after!

Black Bean Soup
2 lbs dry black beans
salt pork (fat back, 10-12 slices bacon...)
2 medium onions
1 can diced tomatoes
6 cloves garlic
1-2 bay leaves
1-2 TBSP cumin
1 tsp chipotle pepper

sour cream, cheddar cheese, scallions for garnish

I soaked my beans overnight w/2 tsp baking soda and a large bowl of water. I don't know what the baking soda does for it, I've heard it cuts the gas and also that it can soften really hard beans (like the ones that have maybe been in your food storage for 10 years?! I don't know....)

So this morning I drained the beans, rinsed them real well and dumped them in the crock-pot. If you don't want to soak your beans overnight, you can clean, rinse, and sort them- then boil them for 1-2 hours.... THEN rinse and drain them and proceed. In the past, not soaking or pre-boiling the black beans has always yielded really hard beans for me. Your mileage may vary.

So, after I put the beans in the crock; I added the salt pork, can of chopped tomatoes, 3 whole cloves garlic, 1-2 bay leaves, chipotle pepper, cumin and chopped onions and set it on high. I'm thinking after about 6 hours, I will remove the bay leaves and any fat from the salt pork; add 3 minced garlic cloves and cilantro to taste, cover with water and let them cook another 2 hours.

Then remove half of the beans (and leave the onion and garlic in there- because they will become unrecognizable here shortly, for those of you whose people don't like to eat onions they can see...) and set them aside. I use my hand/stick blender and blend up what's in the pot. You may use a food processor, blender, whatever you have. You may also do it by hand with a rice masher if you're up to it.

Return the blended mixture and the reserved beans to the pot to simmer for 30 minutes or so, or however long it is until dinner. I'm serving ours with sour cream and grated cheese on top! Pictures to follow.


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