My Black Bean Soup

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I heard about the famous black bean soup of the Coach House in New York City from James Beard, who told me about Leon Lianides and his wonderful food. So when I opened the Santa Fe Bar & Grill I put The Coach House Black Bean Soup on the first menu. Jim Beard tried it on a visit to the restaurant and said, “Well, Jeremiah, it is delicious, but it is not the Coach House black bean soup.” So I dropped the name and it became more and more its own self.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound black turtle beans
  • 1 onion, peeled, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 1 ham bone or 1 cup ham skin and scraps
  • 2 to 3 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • salt
  • ½ cup salsa

Method

Rinse and sort the beans, discarding any stones or discolored beans. Soak overnight in cold water, adding more water if needed. Put the beans, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bouquet garni, ham bone, and chicken stock to cover in a large heavy pot. Bring to a boil and skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Simmer slowly, loosely covered, until the beans are tender, about 2 hours. Add more stock if the level falls below the surface of the beans and stir often to prevent sticking and to ensure that the beans cook evenly.

When the beans are cooked, put them through a meat grinder or food mill fitted with a medium- or fine-mesh disk. Mix the bean puree with the cumin and chili powder.

Mix the sour cream and milk until smooth.

Heat the bean puree, adding more stock to get a consistency that will pour out of a ladle like thin hot cereal. Season and pour into warm soup plates. Drizzle the sour cream over each serving and put the salsa in the center.

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