This is a very popular soup in the southwest and can be the basis for lots of variations, including serving with a companion soup. When I had my restaurant in New York City, this was a staple and very popular—we made oceans of it daily.

Yield: 6-8 servings

4 to 5 cups chicken broth

3 cups dried black beans, sorted and rinsed

2 meaty ham hocks

5 garlic cloves, minced

2 ½ teaspoons salt

1 cup diced onion

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

2 Tablespoons ground oure hot chile

¼ cup pickled jalapeno chile juice, or to taste

sour cream, minced green onion, and crushed Caribe chile for garnish

rum or sherry, optional

1. Combine the chicken broth and 4 cups of water in a large kettle and add the beans, ham bocks, garlic, salt, onion, cumin, and ground chile. Cook, adding more water if necessary, until the beans are tender; they should be soft when mashed against the side of a pan. Stir in the pickle juice to taste. Adjust seasonings, if desired.

2. Spoon soup into bowls; drizzle with a Tablespoon of rum or sherry, optional; then garnish with a dollop of sour cream, topped with green onions and a sprinkle of crushed chile.

Reprinted with Permisssion from Jane Butel’s Hotter Than Hell

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