Monday, October 31, 2011

Slow Cooker Pork and Black Bean Soup

Finally, a recipe that uses those mysterious pork neck bones that always seem to be lurking in the co-op freezer!  The original recipe calls for boneless pork shoulder, but I tried it with pork neck bones and they worked fine.  Use a whole package, as only about half of it is actual meat.  Also, if you've never ventured into the world of pork neck bones, do beware that 1. it is a really gross looking cut of meat, and 2. the bones have a tendency to fall apart in the slow cooker, so you'll need to watch out for rogue shards in the soup.

Almost all of the other ingredients are often available at the co-op.  Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are $1.67 at Kroger/Scott's (in the international/Mexican food section).  They add a flavor that is definitely worth the cost!

Top with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of diced tomatoes and fresh cilantro ($.50 a bunch at Meijer or Kroger/Scott's) to complement the spicy flavors.  Serve with fresh-based cornbread or corn muffins for a hearty cold-weather meal.

Slow Cooker Pork and Black Bean Soup (based on the recipe here)
Active time:  30 minutes
Total time:  6-1/2 hours to 8-1/2 hours
Serves 6

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth (if you use a bouillon-based broth, just reduce the amount of salt)
1 T. chopped canned chipotle peppers in adobo, plus 2 T. adobo sauce
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 large red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pkg. pork neck bones, thawed and extra fat removed
3-4 cans black beans, drained and rinsed (use 4 cans for a thicker soup)
sour cream, diced tomatoes, and/or fresh chopped cilantro, for serving

1.  In a 5- to 6- quart slow cooker, whisk together chicken broth, chipotles and adobo sauce, and cumin; stir in the onion and garlic.
2.  Add the pork and cook, covered, until pork easily pulls apart, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 5 to 6 hours.
3.  Transfer pork to a bowl or cutting board (use a slotted spoon to remove any loose bone pieces).  Use a spoon to skim extra fat off surface of broth (optional).  Add beans to broth mixture, cover, and continue to cook on high.
4.  Using a fork, break pork into large pieces; discard bones.  Using a handheld immersion blender or a standard blender, puree soup (I like it pretty creamy, but you can leave it more chunky if you wish).
5.  Stir the pork back into the soup and season with 1/2 tsp. salt (optional).  Serve with sour cream, tomatoes, and/or cilantro, if desired.

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