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Black Bean Soup

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Black Bean Soup

Serves 6 to 8

4 sprigs fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
6 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons dried mexican oregano
1 tablespoon dried epazote
1/4 cup canola or olive oil
3 to 4 dried chiles de arbol, chiles chipotles, chiles moritas or 2
teaspoons crushed chile caribe
2 cups chopped white onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 pound smoked pork shanks
2 teaspoons freshly ground toasted cumin seed
2 teaspoons freshly ground toasted coriander seed
1 teaspoon ground canela
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
1 pound dried black turtle beans, picked over and soaked overnight in water to cover
8 to 10 cups chicken broth or water 2 to 3 teaspoons cider, red wine or sherry vinegar 1 to 2 teaspoons coarse salt or to taste
1/4 cup finely diced red onion for garnish
1/2 cup sour cream for garnish

Tie the fresh herbs and epazote into a bundle with kitchen string. Heat the oil in a 6-quart pot over medium-high and saute the chiles for 30 seconds or until toasted but not burned. Add the onions and garlic and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, or until softened. Add the pork and the herb bundle, or dried herbs if using. Stir in the spices, beans and 8 cups of the broth and combine well.
Bring to a boil over medium-high, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally, or until the beans are soft.
Add more stock or water as needed. Add the vinegar and salt and simmer the soup an additional 30 minutes. Remove the pork shanks and the herb bundle.
Remove the chiles if desired. Serve the soup in bowls and garnish with red
or sour cream.

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