Black Bean Soup to celebrate my Latino DNA

Blame Florida: the most Latino of the United States. Or Miami: the "new" capital of Latin America. Or the fact that I’m having so much fun writing for Mamás Latinas. Or the Hispanic Heritage Month. Or San Antonio’s Mayor, Julián Castro (yes, with the accent in the á). The truth is I’m enjoying, like never before, the fact that I’m a Latina in the US. I think my Latino DNA is resurfacing and I like the feeling…

Take a look at this black bean soup. I successfully recreated my grandma María de Lourdes' recipe. She was not a big deal of a cook. I would say she had a small amount of simple recipes, but I loved them all.
One of my favorites was black bean soup with bacon, that, of course, she gave me with white rice and tajadas (fried ripe plantains). There was also shredded meat included, but as you may know, I don’t really care about meat.
At her house, we had this black bean soup once a week. She seasoned it with cilantro.
In her recipe there was no avocado involved, but everybody knows avocado pairs perfectly with black beans and adds color to the dish.
Like many Venezuelan cooks, she added some sugar which I substituted for papelón, panela or piloncillo. Trust me: this is heaven.
Black Bean Soup | Ingredients for 8 portions
½ pound of black beans
2 quarts of water
4 slices of frozen bacon cut in ¼ inch strips
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
½  red bell pepper, deveined , seeded and finely chopped
¼ cup of papelón, panela or piloncillo (in pieces)
Coarse sea salt
2 cups of diced avocado for garnishing
1 cup of fresh cilantro leaves for garnishing

The night before, in a pot over medium heat, cook the black beans in water for about an hour. Turn off the heat and let stand overnight, covered. The following day, in a saucepan, over medium heat, cook the bacon until golden, for about 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until soft, 5 minutes. Add the red bell pepper and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the bacon sofrito to the pot with the black beans with the water, and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Lower the heat, add papelón and simmer covered for 1 hour or until the beans are soft. Salt to taste. Serve with some avocado and cilantro.
To print the recipe click here.

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