Thursday, October 2, 2014

Etta's Black Bean and Ham Hock Soup with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Last summer my family and I made the long trek to Seattle to visit my brother and his family.  Near the end of our trip I was trying to think of some kind of souvenir to bring home.  Nothing came to mind.  I mean, I could have brought home a dozen Top Pot donuts, but I don't think they would have lasted, honestly.  Then I remembered my friend told me that she always bought a cookbook, featuring local fare, when visiting other places.   Since we didn't have time to go cookbook shopping, I jumped on amazon when we got home and found not one but two great cookbooks.  The first was the Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook, a carb and breakfast-lovers dream (me!!), and the second was Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen.  Anyone familiar with Seattle knows that Tom Douglas is where it's at when it comes to food.  Owner of Etta's Seafood, Dahlia Lounge and Palace Kitchen, how could I not buy one of his books!!

So, remember I said our trip was LAST summer??  Yeah, it's taken me that long to start going through all the recipes I've bookmarked.  The other day I grabbed Seattle Kitchen off the shelf and this recipe popped out and I almost immediately made it. 

I'm pretty sure you'll find that ham and bean soup is delicious comfort food almost anywhere you go.  I grew up eating just a basic ham and bean soup, but this one will knock your socks off. It is still a super simple, healthy and delicious meal to make but the extra flavors and roasted salsa on top take it just over the top. 

Tom Douglas said this soup has been on the menu at Etta's for lunch and dinner every day since the restaurant opened!  If it's good enough for him, it's definitely good enough for me.

Black Bean and Ham Hock Soup with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
2 cups dried black beans, picked over and rinsed
12 cups chicken stock, or more if needed
1 smoked ham hock (check local butcher or save your own when you buy a ham)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped carrots, half-inch dice
1/2 cup chopped celery, half-inch dice
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 cups drained canned tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. coriander seeds, toasted and ground
2 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. smoked paprika
3/4 tsp. cayenne, or to taste
juice of a lime
salt and pepper
1/4 cup cilantro

Place beans in a large pot with the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until beans are soft, about 2-3 hours (depending on freshness of beans).

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat and slowly cook the onions, carrots and celery until onions are golden and caramelized, 10-15 minutes.  Stir in the garlic the last minute of cooking.  Add the onion mixture to the pot of beans, along with the tomatoes, tomato paste, and ground spices. Continue simmering until beans are soft.

Pull out ham hock and remove fat and skin. Remove meat from the bone, shred or finely chop it and put it back in with the beans.  Season beans with paprika, cayenne, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper.

To serve: Ladle soup into bowls and top with sour cream or soft cheese, such as cojita, and a few dollops of tomatillo salsa. Also great served with cornbread.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
8 oz. (2 1/2 cups) tomatillos, husked, rinsed and dried
oliive oil
1 poblano chile or other mild green chile, such as Anaheim, roasted, peeled and seeded and finely chopped
1 Tbsp. finely chopped red onion
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp.  minced garlic
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (about half a lime)
1 tsp. seeded and minced canned chipotle in adobo
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Toss tomatillos in a drizzle of olive oil, place on a small metal pan and place in the oven, tossing a few times until lightly browned; about 10 minutes.  Allow to cool. 

Turn oven to broil.  Place poblano pepper on a small metal baking tray and place under broiler until skin is blackened slightly, about 5 minutes.  Flip pepper over and broil another 5 minutes or so.  Remove from oven and immediately place it in a container with a lid to cool.  Once cooled, skin easily peels off.

Chop cooled tomatillos and poblano pepper and place in a small mixing bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and taste for seasoning.  Adjust as necessary.  Best used the same day but will keep in the fridge, covered, for 2 days.

SOURCE: Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen

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