Columbus found black beans in Cuba in November 1492. Black beans have been a favorite in the Lowcountry since Europeans first settled here. The local version of a soup made from the dried beans is seasoned with a leftover country ham bone and served with fresh lime slices and sherry.
Cover the beans with water, discarding any that float or look weird. Leave to soak overnight or at least 6 hours, then drain. Put the beans in a stockpot with the remaining ingredients except lime and sherry. Simmer for 2 to 3 hours, until the water just dips below the surface of the beans, skimming foam from the surface as necessary. Remove the bone and puree the soup. This is most easily accomplished with a hand-held blender. Garnish the soup with thin slices of lime and about a teaspoon of sherry per bowl.
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