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Black Bean Soup

1/2 pound smoked slab bacon
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups onions, finely chopped
16 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups celery, finely chopped
1 pound black beans (approximately 3 cups)
1 bay leaf
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tbsp garlic, finely minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/4 tsp thyme
salt
4 tbsp cumin
1/2 c fresh corriander
1 tsp black pepper
sour cream
1/4 c fresh oregano (1 T dried)

Slice and reserve the bacon rind. Cut the bacon into quarter-inch
cubes. Put the bacon and rind into a heavy kettle or casserole
and cook, stirring often, until the fat is rendered. The bacon
should be well-browned and crisp. Add onions, celery, carrots, bay
leaf, garlic, three tablespoons of the cumin, black pepper, and
oregano. Stir to blend and cover. Cook approx.

5 min. over moderately low heat. Do not allow the mixture to burn.
Add the tomato paste and stir briefly. Add the chick stock and
bring to a boil. Rinse and drain the beans and add them to the
soup. Cook, uncovered, over relatively high heat approx. 2.5 hrs.,
skimming the surface to remove foam occasionally. The soup is ready
when the beans are soft and some of them have disintegrated. Stir
in the lime juice, cayenne pepper, salt, corriander, and remaining
cumin. Remove and discard the bacon rind and Bay leaf. Ladle the
soup into individual bowls. Serve sour cream and salsa on the side.

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