A savory favorite from Mark Miller, founder of the Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This is about as southwest as it gets.
1 lb. dried black beans
1 tsp. cumin seed
1 tsp. coriander seed
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
1/2 large Spanish onion
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 jalapenos – cut lengthwise
1 bunch cilantro
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1-1/2 tsp. whole peppercorns
6 quarts water [PLEASE NOTE – THIS AMOUNT IS VERBATIM FROM THE BOOK – OTHER REFERENCES INDICATE 6-7 CUPS. THE AMOUNT SHOWN MAY BE A MISPRINT]
1/2 cup tomato puree
1-1/2 tsp. salt
Wash the beans well in a colander and pick out any foreign particles.
Roast the cumin, coriander and Mexican oregano together in a small, dry cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Do not scorch. Grind in mortar. Tie together with onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns in a cheesecloth. Place in stock pot and simmer for 15 minutes in the water.
Add the beans, tomato puree and salt to the water. Simmer very low for three hours until the beans are tender but not mushy. Add more water if necessary. Remove the cheesecloth bag.
To make a thicker soup, puree 1-1/2 cups beans and stir back into the soup.