I am having a hectic and very odd week, which I will maybe not go into a lot of detail about here, because you're probably here about the food. So, I will keep it brief, but still attempt to be interesting.
In Michigan, there is a wonderful Mexican restaurant in a small town called Otsego that serves the best black bean soup on this earth. Seriously.
I have never been able to recreate it, but this may not be a bad approximation. In addition, chipotles are smoky, which eliminates the need for bacon. Make no mistake, I am not saying that bacon is a bad thing, but, you know, some people don't dig on the pig. There's a ham steak in here too, which you can totally do without. Just leave it out.
Black Bean Soup with Chipotle Chiles
1 pound dried black beans (2 cups), rinsed and picked over
4 ounces ham steak , trimmed of rind
2 bay leaves
5 cups water
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, chopped fine (about 3 cups)
1 large carrot, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
3 ribs celery, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
5 - 6 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 1/2 tablespoon)
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon minced chipotle chiles in adobo
2 teaspoons adobo sauce
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons lime juice , from 1 to 2 limes
minced fresh cilantro leaves
red onion , finely diced
avocado , diced medium
1. FOR THE BEANS: Place beans, ham, bay, water, and baking soda in large saucepan with tight-fitting lid. Bring to boil over medium-high heat; using large spoon, skim scum as it rises to surface. Stir in salt, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer briskly until beans are tender, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours (if necessary, add another 1 cup water and continue to simmer until beans are tender); do not drain beans. Discard bay. Remove ham steak (ham steak darkens to color of beans), cut into 1/4-inch cubes, and set aside.
2. FOR THE SOUP: Heat oil in 8-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking; add onions, carrot, celery, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic and cumin; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in beans, bean cooking liquid, chipotle chiles, adobo sauce, and chicken broth. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 30 minutes.
3. TO FINISH THE SOUP: Ladle 1 1?2 cups beans and 2 cups liquid into food processor or blender, process until smooth, and return to pot. Stir together cornstarch and water in small bowl until combined, then gradually stir about half of cornstarch mixture into soup; bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, to fully thicken. If soup is still thinner than desired once boiling, stir remaining cornstarch mixture to recombine and gradually stir mixture into soup; return to boil to fully thicken. Off heat, stir in lime juice and reserved ham; ladle soup into bowls and serve immediately, passing garnishes separately.