Black Bean Soup

We're digging out of a major blizzard today & nothing sounds better than some thick & delicious soup. The best thing about this is it is cheap, cheap, cheap! If you don't have ham, just leave it out. Mostly it just adds some salty flavor & could probably be subbed out for a tablespoon of bacon bits if you were really desperate to have it in there, but to make a meatless meal, just leave it out.
I didn't get a pic with the sour cream & red pepper flakes on it.
The fam dug in before I could get that done!

1 pound black beans
8 oz ham, chopped or cubed
1 bay leaf
8 c water
1/8 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 T butter, melted
1 T olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
6 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped
3/4 T cumin
3 c chicken broth

  1. Boil the beans, ham, bay leaf, baking soda, & salt in a large pot until beans are cooked through (about 90 min) adding more hot water as necessary.
  2. Sauté the onions, celery, & carrot in the oil & butter until onions are lightly browned.
  3. Add garlic & cumin to the veggies & cook until very fragrant but not browned, 30 to 45 seconds.
  4. Add cooked veggies & chicken broth to beans & heat through.
  5. Serve topped with sour cream & a sprinkling of red pepper flakes.