Slow Cooked Black Bean Soup

Winter-time just begs for soups; rich, filling, healthful soups. Throw this recipe for black bean soup together and forget about it for hours. The results will make you the household hero of the day.

Makes 10 portions. Takes about 7 hours; depending on the freshness of the black beans.

1 tsp olive oil
4 strips of bacon
8 oz onion, chopped
1 large red pepper, seeded and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 jalapeno, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
10 oz sweet potato, cubed
1½ tea cumin
¾ tea chipotle powder
2 oz tequila or dark rum
16 oz black beans
8 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick

@ service: 1 lime per pint of soup, cilantro, sour cream for garnish

Cook bacon in olive oil in large sauté pan over medium heat until bacon is cooked but not brown. The goal is to render the fat, not to make crispy bacon to go with your eggs.

Remove bacon and cool. Strain all but 2 Tbsp fat from fry pan and add onions, red peppers, and celery. Lower heat, cover vegetables to sweat until they begin to get tender, about 5 minutes. Add in jalapeno and garlic. Sautee until aromatics are released (it smells like garlic), add sweet potatoes, cumin and chipotle powder and incorporate well. Add tequila/rum. Incorporate well and let liquid cook off.

Put mixture into slow cooker, add beans, stock, bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Cover and bring to simmer on high. Simmer until beans are tender, about 5 hours.

Some like to puree a portion of the soup, I like it nice and lumpy.

You can cool, then freeze or reheat… or eat out of the pot.

At service, re-heat soup and add 1-2 Tbsp lime juice, salt and pepper to taste and garnish with cilantro, sour cream or a poached egg!

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