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Related Recipe:
Hearty Black Bean Soup

2 tablespoons oil

3 medium onions -- chopped

4 cloves garlic -- minced

48 ounces canned black beans (frijoles negros) --

drained and rinsed 1 tablespoon fresh oregano -- finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin -- or to taste

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme -- finely chopped

1 bay leaf

2 cups cubed ham -- cooked

2 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup dry sherry

16 ounces canned whole tomatoes -- drained & chopped

1/4 cup fresh tomatoes -- peeled and chopped

salt and freshly ground pepper -- to taste ACCOMPANIMENTS: fresh lime or lemon wedges sour cream radishes -- thinly sliced green onions -- sliced cilantro leaves chile salsa

In a wide-bottomed, large saucepan over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions and cook until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in beans, oregano, cumin, thyme, bay leaf, ham, stock, sherry, and tomatoes.

Increase heat and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt, if necessary, and pepper. Serve soup with your choice of accompaniments, or cool to room temperature and refrigerate or freeze.

Makes about 7 cups.

* Timesaver Tip: Soup can be made up to 2 days ahead, covered, and refrigerated, or it can be frozen. To freeze, spoon soup into one large or several smaller individual freezer containers. Cover, label, and freeze at 0 degrees F up to 1 month. To serve, defrost soup 15 to 20 minutes on Defrost setting of microwave, or thaw in refrigerator 8 to 24 hours. Gently warm soup in a saucepan or microwave at 50% power until it is warmed through. Stir several times both during defrosting and during reheating.

Microwave Version

Put oil in a 2-quart casserole and microwave on 70% power 45 seconds. Add onions and microwave another 3 minutes, until onions are soft. Add garlic and microwave a minute longer. Complete step 2 as directed above. Cover casserole with waxed paper or loosely with plastic wrap and microwave, still on 70% power, 30 minutes.

time and timesaver tip same as above.