Black Bean Soup

2 cups black beans
1/4 cup bacon, 1/4 inch dice
1 1/2 cups onions, 1/4 inch dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano, dried
2 quarts chicken stock
1 ham hock
2 tablespoons sherry wine
salt and white pepper to taste
1 cup onion, 1/4 inch dice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 cups boiled rice
1 tablespoon sour cream
2 tablespoons green onions, sliced

  1. Pick over the beans and soak overnight in cold water to cover. Drain.
  2. Render the bacon over medium heat, add the onions and garlic and cook 3 minutes or until soft.
  3. Add the beans, cumin, oregano, chicken stock, and ham hock; bring to simmer, turn down the heat and simmer for approx 1-1 1/2 hours or until beans are tender.
  4. Remove ham hock; cool, remove the meat, dice, and reserve.
  5. Puree the soup and bring back to a simmer.
  6. Add ham hock, meat, and sherry, and season with salt and pepper. Be sure to check the consistency of the soup adjust with more chicken stock if too thick.
  7. For garnish, marinate onion in olive oil and vinegar for at least 30 minutes.
  8. Garnish the soup with rice, marinated onion, sour cream, and sliced green onions.

Chef: Elegant presentation, good color and texture is very smooth, but with crunches. Flavor is good, some heat form habenero (instead of scotch bonnet), but not overpowering. The garnish looks nice and overall beautifully put together dish.

Personal/Team: We did not follow the recipe directly and possibly that accounted for the rich color. We cooked the beans separately form the ham hock in chicken broth and other flavors, then blended them all together. It still had great flavor and the texture was nice. Personally, I wanted to add more color to the dish by adding a red pepper confetti, but the simpler garnish worked well.

Lesson Learned: We adapted our recipe because we made a mistake and we were able to pull it off. It is important to know how to make adjustments during cooking and as long as the final results are good. In this case, cooking the beans away from the other flavorings worked because we blended everything together anyway.