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2 cups dried black beans
8 cups water
5 cloves garlic
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 ham bone or several smoked ham hocks
1 lb. smoked pork, ham or slab bacon
2 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ancho pepper or 1 whole poblano, seeded, chopped
1/2 tsp. Taco seasoning
hot pepper, garlic powder and/or paprika, to taste
1/2 tsp. cumin seed
salt and pepper, to taste

Wash and pick over beans carefully to remove any stones that may have gotten into the bag during the harvesting process.

Cover beans with water and bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Cover and allow to sit for 1 hour. Meanwhile, saut garlic and onion (and fresh ancho or poblano pepper, if using) in a tablespoon of olive oil. Set aside.

After beans have soaked for 60 minutes, add meats and seasonings. Cover and simmer for 2 hours. Uncover and simmer until soup is desired consistency. Add sauteed onion and garlic in olive oil.

Soup may be thickened by removed 1/4 cup or so and processing in a blender until pureed (or use a hand blender). Return puree to soup. Or simply mash some of the beans with a fork and return to the soup.

Note: As soup cooks, add water or broth as needed. Some beans absorb more water than others based on how long they've been stored.

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