Black Bean Soup with Lime Sour Cream Garnish

     Black Bean Soup. How many recipes are there? Hundreds, probably. A few I have liked, most are just so-so. When I saw this recipe at King Arthur Flour, I hesitated to try it. Still, it looked interesting since it uses prepared salsa and lime sour cream.And so I thought, oh well, once won't hurt. And if nothing else, I'll cook it down for refried beans and put it on nachos. I am pleased to report that this IS a good recipe. And I still think I may cook down leftovers, mash them and use them as refried beans on nachos - definite potential, I think.
                      King Arthur Flours' Black Bean Soup with Lime Sour Cream

serves 12

1# dried black beans
3qt water
1 ham bone or 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
2 bay leaves
3T oil
21/2 c onion, diced (2 medium)
1c celery, diced (3-4 stalks)
11/2c red pepper, diced ( 1 medium pepper) - I assumed this to be red bell pepper
11/2c green pepper, diced (1 medium pepper) - I assumed this to be green bell pepper
11/2c prepared salsa (16oz jar - your choice of mild, medium or hot)
3 cloves garlic
2tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder - I assumed this to be ground red chili powder. I used New Mexico chili powder.
1T salt
2tsp pepper
1c diced ham

1c sour cream
1T lime juice - please, use fresh if possible
1T lime zest
3tomatillos, peeled, finely diced and drained - if using fresh, same applies, except I "toast" them, like you
         would peppers.
3T dried minced onions - I used onion powder, 11/2T, because I had no dried ones.
1/8tsp salt

To Cook Soup:
Wash beans according to package directions. Put them in a large pot and cover them with the 3qt water. Bring to a boil, then remove pot from heat and set it aside for 1 hour. After one hour, add the ham bone and bay leaf.---- I did not add ham or ham bone. I did replace some of the water with an equal amount of left-over french onion soup I had .

Bring soup to a slow simmer over medium heat, and simmer it for 1 to 11/2 hours, until the beans are tender. Remove ham bone, if you use it. Remove about 2c beans, and either mash or blend them into a paste. Return the beans to the pot, and continue to simmer, uncovered, until soup has thickened.

While the soup is simmering, saute the diced vegetables in the oil until the onions are translucent. Add sauteed vegetables, salsa, garlic, seasonings, bouillon cubes (if using), and ham to the soup, and bring it to a boil. It will be quite thick; add a small amount of water if needed to thin slightly. Simmer the soup 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

Lime Sour Cream:
While soup is simmering, prepare the garnish. Mix sour cream, lime juice, lime zest, tomatillos, minced onions and salt together. The mixture will be quite runny due to the liquid remaining in the tomatillos, but will thicken after sitting for an hour or so. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream, more salsa, avocado slices and a sprig of cilantro, if you like.