Jamaican Black Bean Soup

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from The Foster’s Market Cookbook

2 cups dried black beans, picked over and rinsed
¼ cup olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 ribs celery, diced
2 jalapeños, diced
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 tbsp dried basil
8 cups chicken broth
4 bay leaves
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
juice of 4 limes (really)
avocado to garnish (optional)
cilantro to garnish (optional)

Quick soak the beans:  Place the beans in a large pot and cover with 3 inches of water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.  Remove from heat, drain, rinse and set aside

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Cook the onion until soft, 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add red bell pepper, carrots, celery and jalpeños and cook about 10 minutes more.  Add garlic and cook 2 minutes longer.

Add basil, apple, broth, bay leaves, salt, pepper and drained beans and stir to blend.  Bring to a low boil then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 1¼ hours (or until the beans are tender).

Allow the soup to cool slightly then pull out the bay leaves.  Use an immersion blender to puree the soup a little bit.  (I like to leave it a little bit chunky because it feels more rustic, but you can puree it until it is smooth if you want.)  If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can transfer about half of the soup to a food processor, puree and then transfer it back to the pot.  Cook 15 more minutes.  (I have no idea why, but I usually do what Sara Foster says…)  Remove pot from heat and stir in lime juice.  Garnish and serve!

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