Black beans have a fudgy texture and fruity depth to their flavour. Slow-cooked pork hock (shin) makes the soup rich and velvety, smoky with chipotle and warm with cumin.
This is proper peasant food; a good cheap meal that feels really meaty and sustaining, even though you only get a small amount of pork with each portion.
- Naomi Devlin, nutrition expert, author, and River Cottage chef.
400g (14oz) dried black beans or 2 x 400g (14oz) tins black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon chicken, duck or bacon fat or lard
2 onions, finely chopped
1 large celery stick, finely chopped
350g (12oz) red peppers (ideally romano), de-seeded and roughly chopped
4–5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
1 small pork hock (or 800g/1¾lb pork ribs or 2 trotters)
1 teaspoon smoked chipotle pepper (or hot smoked paprika)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 litre (1 ¾ pints) boiling water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar or sherry vinegar
4 tablespoons crème fraîche (or soured cream or live natural yoghurt)
2 large handfuls of cherry tomatoes, quartered
Very large handful of coriander leaves
Cooking time: 3-3.5 hours
Preparation time: 30 minutes
How many for?
1. If you are using dried black beans, soak the beans overnight in plenty of cold water. Drain and rinse the soaked beans, then put into a pan and cover with fresh cold water. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 15 minutes, skimming off any froth that rises. Drain and rinse again, then set aside.
2. Melt the fat in a large pan, add the chopped vegetables, garlic, cumin seeds, bay leaves and pork hock and sauté gently for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, sweet and caramelised. Add the chipotle pepper, paprika, black beans and boiling water and bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 2 ½ –3 hours, until the beans are collapsing and the meat is falling off the bone. Leave the lid off for a bit towards the end if the soup looks a bit watery, or add water if it’s too thick. Add the vinegar and season with salt. Take out the pork and shred the meat with a fork, then return this to the soup, with the skin, if you like. Discard the bay leaves.
3. Let down the crème fraîche with a little water, so that you can swirl it on top of the soup. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each portion with a swirl of crème fraîche, some cherry tomatoes and a scatter of coriander leaves. Add some toasted sourdough rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil or warm corn tortillas for hungrier souls.
The soup will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge, or you can freeze leftovers for up to 3 months (simply defrost and reheat thoroughly before serving).