Smoky Black Bean & Pepper Soup

– 2 ½ cups dry black beans, soaked for 8 hours or overnight – 2 medium yellow onion – 2 medium green bell pepper – 1 smoked ham hock (1 1/4 pounds) – 2 bay leave – 8 cups water – 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil – 4 cloves garlic, minced

Ingredients

– 1 Cubanelle or jalapeño pepper (see Tip), seeded and finely chopped – 1 teaspoon ground cumin – 1 teaspoon dried oregano – ¾ teaspoon salt – 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar or cider vinegar – Roasted red peppers, jalapeño, avocado, red onion & lime wedges for garnish

Drain and rinse beans. Set aside 1 finely chopped onion and half of the second. Finely chop and save 1 bell pepper. Quarter the other.  

Directions

In a pot, combine beans, remaining half onion, quartered bell pepper, ham hock, bay leaves, and water. Boil on high. Simmer, cover, and cook for 1 1/2 hours to tenderize beans.  

Let the ham hock cool on a clean chopping board. Throw away the onion, bell pepper, and bay leaves. Mash 1 cup of beans in a small basin with a fork. Remove and cut ham hock flesh.  

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds until fragrant. Add Cubanelle (or jalapeno) and saved sliced onions and bell pepper.  

Cook vegetables for 4 minutes, stirring regularly, until soft. Cook cumin, oregano, and salt for 1 minute, stirring. Add vinegar, scraping brown particles.   

Add mashed beans and simmer 1 minute. 5. Place vegetables and ham in the pot with the beans. Stir over medium heat for 5 minutes until heated. If preferred, add roasted red peppers, jalapeño, avocado, red onion, and lime wedges.  

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