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Black Bean Soup

1 lb black beans
1 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium tomatoes, skinned and chopped
Hot chili pepper (optional)
Polish or Italian sausage (optional)
Sherry (optional)

The night before, wash beans carefully and remove any empty shells or small stones. Cover beans with water and soak overnight. Drain beans and put into a heavy sauce pan with salt and enough water to reach at least 1 inch above beans. Bring beans to boil, reduce heat and cook about 2 hours or until beans are soft enough to mash. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Saute garlic and onions in olive oil unitl onions are tranclucent. Add chopped tomatoes, cook and stir about 5 minutes longer. Remove 2 cups beans from the pot and add to the onion-tomato mixture, mash and stir to make a thick sauce.

Blend remaining beans in blender for a few seconds at low speed; soup should be a little chunky-not completely smooth. Return to pot and add onion mixture. May add chopped hot chili pepper at this time or do as the Brazilians do and pass them at the table.

Add water as needed to prevent bubbling and to acquire the right thickness. Reheat over low heat, stirring often. May add Polish or Italian sausage that has been sliced, fried and drained, and a splash of sherry.

Preparation time: 20 min

Serves: 6
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