Black Bean Soup

A meal in itself, Black Bean Soup is thick and filling and a good dish to serve in mid-winter.

1 lb. black-eye beans

1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped

1 bay leaf

1 small bacon hock

4 pints cold water

½ teaspoon black pepper salt, if necessary

4 hard-boiled eggs, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 lemon, cut into wedges

Put the beans in a colander and wash them under cold, running water. When the water runs clear, drain the beans and put them in a large saucepan or flameproof casserole.

Add the onion, celery, bay leaf and bacon hock. Pour in the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the scum as it rises to the surface. When the scum stops rising, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 hours, or until the beans are soft.

Remove the bacon hock, reserving the meat for another meal or sandwiches, and discard the bone. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Puree the soup in a blender or rub it through a strainer with the back of a wooden spoon.

Pour the pureed soup back into the pan. If it is too thick, add a little water. Taste the soup and add the black pepper and, if necessary, a little salt.

Return the pan to moderate heat and bring the soup to a simmer. Stir in the eggs and vinegar. Pour the soup into a warmed tureen. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley. Serve with the lemon wedges.

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