Hearty Bean Soup with Rice

2 cup dry pinto beans or black beans
2-1/2 qts. chicken broth or ham broth
1-1/2 lb. smoked ham hock or left over ham bone with bits of meat
1 cup chopped onions
2 cup sliced carrots
4 cloves garlic, crushed
Hot peppers to taste
Salt to taste
1/4 cup dry sherry (optional)
3 to 4 cup hot cooked rice

Wash beans. Discard imperfect ones. Drain. Place in large saucepan. Add cold water to come 1 inch over beans. Let soak overnight. Or bring to boil, boil for 1 minute, remove from heat, and let stand 1 hour. Drain. Add all ingredients except sherry and rice. Heat to boiling, reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 3 hours or until beans are very tender. Stir occasionally while cooking and adjust seasonings, if necessary. If more liquid is needed, add boiling broth or water. When beans are tender, remove ham bones. Place about half of the soup in a blender and puree (or put through sieve or mash). Return to kettle. Stir in sherry. Ladle soup into bowls and top with mounds of rice.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

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Cajun Country -- New Iberia, Louisiana