Monday, January 6, 2014

Cuban-Style White Bean Soup

At the moment it is - 22 ºF in this part on Minnesota, with a wind chill of - 47 ºF. Schools are closed today, as are some businesses. It is easy for me to complain about living here but I feel I have been doing that since November. Instead, I am going to look at the positive: I get to spend an extra day at home with the hubby and our puppies. Plus, there is more time for cooking, something that is rare these days, particularly on weekdays.  

Yesterday, I made up a batch of this hearty Cuban style soup. The first time I had Cuban white bean soup was last October at Padrino's in Boca Raton, Florida. Usually, I'm not a soup person but this one takes me back to the Caribbean, with its distinct salted pork flavor.   Typically, these Caribbean soups and stews are made with dried beans that need to soak for a few hours prior to cooking. This version, however,  makes it easy by using canned white kidney beans, which by no means diminishes the heartiness and flavor of this soup. 

Stay warm!

Cuban-Style White Bean Soup
Serves 4

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 medium sized carrot, diced
4 to 5 oz salted pork, diced
1 ham hock
3 cans white kidney beans
5 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp fresh, chopped cilantro

1. Add the oil to a large stock pot set over medium to high heat. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves thyme and carrot. Cook until the onions have softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the salted pork and ham hock, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. 
2. Pour in the kidney beans and chicken stock. Stir well. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cover. Let simmer on low for another 30 minutes. Carefully remove the ham hock from the soup to a cutting surface and remove a much of the meat as you can. Return the meat to the soup, discarding the bone. Take a masher and roughly pass it through the soup to create a chunky consistency. Stir in the fresh cilantro before serving.