Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Cook's Illustrated


Serves 6 to 8. From The Best Make-Ahead Recipe.

Serve this soup with minced red onion, sour cream, and hot sauce, if desired. If the soup becomes too thick as it sits, thin to the desired consistency with either water or broth.

PREP-AHEAD TRIPS: You can store the following ingredients together:
1. Cook the vegetables as described in step 1, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerator.
2. Pick over and rinse the black beans and refrigerate.

2tablespoons vegetable oil
3medium onions , minced
3celery ribs , chopped medium
2medium carrots , chopped medium
6medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
5teaspoons ground cumin
1/2teaspoon red pepper flakes
3cups water
3cups low-sodium chicken broth
1pound dried black beans (about 2 1/4 cups), picked over and rinsed
2medium smoked ham hocks
2bay leaves
1/4cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
Ground black pepper


  1. 1. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, cumin, pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes.

  2. 2. Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker insert and stir in the water, broth, black beans, ham hocks, and bay leaves until evenly combined. Cover and cook on low until the soup has thickened and the beans are tender, 8 to 10 hours. (Alternatively, cover and cook on high for 6 to 7 hours.)

  3. 3. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Remove the ham hocks and transfer them to a plate to cool. Meanwhile, puree 2 cups of the soup in a blender until smooth, then stir back into the slow cooker insert. When the hocks are cool enough to handle, remove any meat, discarding the skin, fat, and bones, and add the meat back to the soup. Stir in the cilantro, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

America's Test Kitchen

America’s Test Kitchen is a 2,500-square-foot kitchen located just outside of Boston. It is the home of Cook’s Country and Cook’s Illustrated magazines and is the workday destination for more than three dozen test cooks, editors, and cookware specialists. Our mission is to test recipes until we understand how and why they work and arrive at the best version. We also test kitchen equipment and supermarket ingredients in search of brands that offer the best value and performance. You can watch us work by tuning in to America’s Test Kitchen (www.americastestkitchen.com) on public television.

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