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Smoky Black Bean And Ham Bone Soup

serves 6

There is something dramatically appealing about the deep, inky color of black beans. Their rich, earthy flavor and velvety texture seems a perfect match for the salty smoke of ham in this black bean version of split pea soup.


2 cups dried black beans
1 meaty ham bone
4 to 5 cups best quality fat-free, low-sodium commercial chicken broth
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup chipotle salsa
3 cooked smoked or spiced sausages, such as chorizo, bratwurst, or Cajun andouille
1/4 cup dry sherry

Optional garnishes:

Sour cream
Chopped fresh cilantro


prep: 30 minutes
total: 3 hours , plus overnight to soak beans


heavy soup pot (with lid)
immersion blender, blender or potato masher
large skillet


1. Place the beans in a bowl and add enough water to cover them by 2 inches. Soak the beans overnight and then drain them in a colander.

2. Transfer the beans to a large heavy-bottomed pot and add the ham bone. Pour 4 cups of broth and 4 cups of water over the beans and add the bay leaf. Bring the beans and broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and let the beans cook, partially covered, at a gentle simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, until they are completely tender. Add a splash more broth if the soup seems too thick. Reduce the heat to medium-low if necessary to keep them simmering gently. Turn off the heat when the beans are done and let the soup cool for about 10 minutes.

3. Using tongs, remove the ham bone to a cutting board. Cut the meat off the bone with a sharp knife and cut the chunks into dice or shred them into small pieces. Set the meat aside in a bowl and discard the bone.

4. Remove the bay leaf from the beans and discard it. With an immersion blender, coarsely puree the black beans in the broth so that some are mashed and some remain whole. If you don’t have an immersion blender, puree some of the soup in a regular blender or use a potato masher to mash up some of the beans.

5. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet placed over medium heat. Stir in the onions, taking care to coat them thoroughly with the oil. Sauté for a couple of minutes, stirring them frequently, and then stir in the garlic. Continue to cook the onions and garlic for another 7 to 8 minutes, stirring them to prevent them from burning, until they are softened and translucent. Sprinkle in the sweet and smoked paprika and the oregano and stir until they are well incorporated. Add the salsa and cook for another minute or so, until all of the ingredients are well blended.

6. Remove the onion mixture from the heat and add it to the bean soup, along with the reserved meat from the ham bone. Cut the smoked sausages into thick half-coins and add them to the soup. Finally, stir in the sherry. Reheat the soup on medium-low until it just comes to a simmer. Serve in shallow rimmed bowls, garnishing each serving with a dollop of sour cream and a scattering of cilantro.

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