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CULINARY SOS

Recipe: Black bean soup at Las Brisas

November 11, 2009

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Dear SOS: Could you possibly get the recipe for the black bean soup at Las Brisas restaurant in Laguna Beach? They have the most delicious black bean soup I've ever tasted!

Beatrice Hayden Rolling Hills Estates

Dear Beatrice: We loved the texture and depth of this black bean soup, slow-simmered with smoked ham hocks and seasoned with salt pork, garlic, cumin and oregano. Served with an assortment of garnishes, it makes for a visually striking presentation.

Black bean soup

Total time: 2 1/2 to 3 hours

Servings: 12 to 16

Note: Adapted from Las Brisas

Pico de gallo

4 1/2 tablespoons minced white onion

4 1/2 tablespoons minced tomato

3 tablespoons minced cilantro

3 fresh serrano chiles, seeded and minced

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Salt

In a serving bowl, toss together the onion, tomato, cilantro, chiles and lime juice. Season with salt to taste. This makes about 1 cup pico de gallo.

Black bean soup and assembly

2 pounds dried black beans, picked over and rinsed

4 quarts water, more as needed

1 white onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 ribs of celery, chopped

4 ounces salt pork, rind discarded and cut into 1/4 -inch pieces

1 3/4 pounds smoked ham hocks (about 3)

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons white pepper, more to taste

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

2 teaspoons salt, more to taste

1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, garnish

2 fresh serrano chiles, seeded and minced, garnish

4 slices crisp bacon, crumbled, garnish

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, garnish

1/4 cup minced Bermuda onion, garnish

Prepared pico de gallo, garnish

1. In an 8-quart soup pot, combine the beans, water, onion, carrots, celery, salt pork and ham hocks. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic, white pepper, cumin, oregano and salt and continue to simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally until the beans are very tender and the soup is reduced to about 4 quarts (it should come halfway up the sides of the pot after the ham hocks are removed), about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

2. Discard the ham hocks and puree the soup. Adjust the consistency with additional water if needed, and season with 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste, and additional pepper as desired.

3. Ladle the soup into heated bowls and serve garnished with the cilantro, chiles, bacon, cheese, red onion and pico de gallo.

Each of 16 servings: 261 calories; 14 grams protein; 35 grams carbohydrates; 13 grams fiber; 8 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 9 mg. cholesterol; 1 gram sugar; 614 mg. sodium.