Black bean soup

  (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

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.