Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cuban Black Rice & Black Bean Soup with Jamaican Dark Rum

Ponderable question. Is it still technically possible for black bean soup to qualify as Cuban if the sweet, dark rum therein hails from Jamaica? How about if I call it Cuban-style

Sure, they make dark rum in Cuba, but unless you ARE or KNOW a rum runner we'll never be able to make this soup with authenticity. Damn Cuban embargo. Enter Appleton Dark Rum...from Jamaica.

How did this dark and rich soup come about? Like most of my soups, there was a this case, a ham bone...leftover from a Sunday dinner. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it at the time, so I wrapped it well and tucked it into the freezer until there was some inkling of what to do with it. The inkling never came. 

What did come was warmer weather. As the opportunity for hot soup waned, I decided to just wing it, make the stock and see what naturally developed.

Cooked, cold black rice waited in the fridge...what would work with black rice, but black beans. Beans and rice, of course! In soup form. This was made even easier by the cans of black beans I keep in the pantry just for such times. (Because you never know when you need a can for emergency black bean hummus or cowboy caviar!) The soup came together quickly and easily. Classic ingredients - with a twist - simply don't need much fussing.

You might wonder why, at first glance, dark rum was added to soup. It just seemed like a natural pairing. Dark rum is made from molasses so I thought that same dark, slightly smoky sweetness would echo the smoky sweetness of ham stock. That, and it just seemed like a fun addition! Doesn't rum make just about everything better?! 

Cuban Black Rice & Black Bean Soup
 with Jamaican Dark Rum

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, seeds removed, diced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced

  • 3 cans black beans, drained

  • 4 cups ham stock (see recipe below)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 2 cups cooked black rice (or brown rice - or whatever cooked rice you have tucked in the back of YOUR fridge!)

  • 1/4 cup dark rum

  • 1/4 cup green onions, sliced well into the green

In a large soup pot, add 2 T. olive oil and heat. Add the chopped onions and green pepper. Saute until soft, add garlic and cook another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the drained black beans and stir into veggies. Cook another 10 minutes to meld flavors.

Add the ham stock, vinegar, bay leaves and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, lower heat immediately and add rice. Cover and simmer about half an hour. Add rum and simmer another 15 minutes or until the raw rum taste dissipates.

Ladle into bowl, add reserved ham (that you've warmed in the microwave - make it easy!) and garnish with sliced green onions.

Ham Stock:  In a soup pot, add a large meaty ham bone. Add several large celery stalks with lots of leaves, 2 large quartered onions, 3 T. dried minced garlic. Bring to boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for several hours until the ham fall easily from the bone.

Cool and remove all the meat from the bone. Reserve meat to add to black bean soup. You should have about 4 cups of ham stock. Proceed with black bean soup recipe.
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