Black bean soup with smoked turkey & a lime-cilantro crema

  • 1 lb. dried black beans, picked through
  • salt
  • water
  • 2 medium smoked turkey legs
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves, crushed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 oz.) fire-roasted crushed tomatoes (Muir Glen makes a product like this)
  • 2 or 3 large dried Pasilla chili peppers (or to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Lime-Cilantro Crema:

  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves
  • 2 tbsp. green onions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • salt to taste

Begin beans early in day:

Rinse the dried beans thoroughly with water, then place them into a crock pot. Fill the crock pot with hot water so that it covers the beans with 2 inches of water. Turn the crock pot on low and cook for about 4 ½ hours. Check the beans once in a while and if the water gets too low add enough to just come level with the beans. Once the beans have become tender, turn off the crock pot, add 2 tablespoons of salt to them and let them sit an hour or so.

Begin cooking the turkey legs:

After the beans have been cooking for about two hours, place the turkey legs into a stock pot and fill the pot with about 3 quarts of water. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer the turkey legs about 90 minutes or until meat is very tender. Remove the pot from the heat and remove the turkey legs to a plate.

Begin preparing the soup:

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and the celery along with a large pinch of salt. Cook the onion mixture, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and beginning to turn golden. Add the cumin and oregano and cook another minute or two. Add minced garlic and cook another minute. Add the onion mixture to the turkey broth along with the canned tomatoes. Return pot to heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer about 30 minutes.

Toast chilis:

Use a pair of metal tongs to hold the dried Pasilla chili peppers over a stove burner for a few seconds, turning the chilis over the flames so they toast a bit on all sides. Set each aside when it has been toasted. Tear the cooled chilis into large pieces, discarding all their seeds and their stems. Place the pieces of toasted chili into the pot of simmering turkey broth. Chilis should simmer for approximately 20 minutes.

Make Lime-Cilantro Crema:

Place the cilantro, green onions, salt and lime juice into the pitcher of a blender. Add the sour cream. Blend the mixture until it is completely pureed; remove to a small bowl. Refrigerate for a few minutes until soup is finished.

Finish soup:

Remove half the black beans from the crock pot and place them in a strainer over a bowl. Add the remaining beans and bean broth to the turkey broth in the soup pot. Remove pot from heat. Use a blender stick to puree the beans and turkey broth until the soup is very smooth. Next, remove all the meat from the turkey legs, discarding the skin, tendons and other inedible parts. Chop the meat roughly to make uniform bite-size pieces. Add the whole black beans and the turkey meat to the soup and correct seasonings. Heat the soup till it is very hot, then serve in large bowls with a generous drizzle of the Lime-Cilantro Crema and toasted corn tortillas on the side.

Makes about 8 servings

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