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Pumpkins One, Two, and Three (and Me)

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Entries in beans (1)


Digging out and black bean soup.

It finally stopped snowing in the late afternoon yesterday and Charlie spent hours trying to dig us out.  But until a plow comes through our neighborhood, I don't think we'll get beyond our driveway.  I'm having flashbacks to 1996 when my roommates and I were snowed in for days.  Of course, back then it was a welcome diversion from law school classes.  

The boys weren't sure what to make of all the snow--they were a bit lost because they couldn't just run and play.  But they did enjoy scaling the snowy mountains created by displaced snow as Charlie shoveled and shoveled.   

As for me, I stayed mostly inside and could not resist making a big pot of a favorite cold weather comfort--black bean soup.  I still had a meaty ham bone in the freezer from our Christmas dinner so it was a perfect choice.  Here's my recipe that I turn to when I forget to soak the beans overnight.    

Black Bean Soup

     adapted greatly from versions I found on SimplyRecipes and AllRecipes


  • 1 lb black beans, picked through and rinsed
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ham bone (or 1lb smoked ham hock or shank, in which case you won't need the additional meat below)
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 celery rib, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 Tbl cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 4 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped ham or shredded cooked chicken
  • 3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice


  • sour cream
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • hot sauce 


  • Place beans, water, ham bone, broth, bay leaves, baking soda, and salt in a heavy, thick-bottomed pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer.  Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally (if you are not using a heavy-bottomed pot, you'll need to stir often).
  • Remove bay leaves and ham bone from pot and cut ham meat away from the bone into small, bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  • Remove about two cups of bean mixture and place in a blender.  Keep uncovered for a few minutes to allow mixture to sightly cool, then cover and puree beans until smooth, holding blender lid down.  Or (this is what I do) place the two cups of bean mixture into a bowl and puree until smooth using an immersion blender.  Place back into pot.
  • Heat olive oil in a large pan on medium to medium high until the oil is hot but not smoking.  Add onions, celery, sweet potato, carrot, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and softened, about 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium, add the cumin, chili powder, garlic, and chopped tomato, cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add onion mixture to the bean pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 additional minutes, adding in reserved meat from ham bone and chopped ham/shredded chicken (if using) for the last 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and add 3 Tbsp lime juice (optional but I love the addition of fresh lime juice) and salt to taste.
  • Serve with garnishes. Makes 8 cups, serving approximately 6 (for our family of two adults and 3 children, it is enough for a hearty dinner plus lunch the next day).