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Black Bean Soup

    12 oz. dried black beans
    8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
    2 teaspoons olive oil
    1 onion, chopped
    1 cup carrots, chopped
    1 cup celery, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 teaspoons dried oregano
    1 teaspoon dried thyme
    1 bay leaf
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    Fresh cilantro (optional)

  Rinse and sort though black beans, discarding any that are shriveled
 or discolored. Place beans in a large stockpot. Cover beans with
 water and refrigerate to soak overnight. Drain beans and return to
 stockpot. Add stock and heat to boiling.

  Meanwhle, heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.
 Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and saute until tender,
 approximately 5 minutes. Add to stockpot along with oregano, thyme,
 bay leaf and cayenne pepper. Cover stockpot and reduce heat to simmer
 for 3 to 4 hours.

  Transfer soup to blender or food processor and puree to desired
 thickness. Just before serving add lime juice and garnish with a
 sprig of fresh cilantro, if desired. Add salt and pepper to taste
 and serve.