Black Beans, 2 Ways

Blame it on my Texas roots, but black beans are a household staple. Growing up, my mom used to cook a huge batch every so often, always freezing a portion in quart-sized bags. What you’re left with is an easy weeknight meal when time is limited—just set out a bag or two to defrost in the morning, heat the beans in a pot when you get home, and serve with a bunch of yummy toppings and cornbread on the side. We recently made a pot of beans, seasoned liberally with peppers and oregano, and have been enjoying them two ways: traditionally like I used to as a kid and blended into soup for comfort food on still-chilly nights. Keep reading for the simple recipe, and I hope you enjoy!

Black Bean Soup

1.5 cups cooked black beans
Sherry cooking wine
Toppings: sour cream, chopped red onion, cilantro, lime juice

To make soup for one, simply transfer a cup of the black beans to a small food processor. Blend, adding a little sherry cooking wine to thin out the beans. Using a potato masher, mash another half cup of black beans in a bowl. Fold mashed beans into the soup to give it a thicker texture. Warm your soup in a pot on the stove or in the microwave. To serve, top with sour cream, chopped red onions, cilantro and lots of lime juice.

Black Beans

2 pounds of dry black beans, stones removed and soaked in a pot overnight
3 cups thinly sliced yellow onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 slice bacon (we prefer the thick center cut kind)
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
4 Thai chili peppers, thinly diced (or substitute serranos)
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
7 cups water
3 cups chicken stock
Toppings: tomato, avocado, queso fresco, pickled red onions

Drain your soaked beans and set aside. In your stock pot, cook the bacon until cooked but not crispy. Set aside and coarsely chop. Add onion, garlic and peppers and cook until they golden. Add beans, seasonings, water, chicken stock and chopped bacon back into the pot with the onions, garlic and peppers. Bring to a simmer and then let cook for about 1.5 hours over low heat. To serve, top with tomato, avocado, queso fresco and pickled red onions.

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