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Cuban Black Bean Soup with Sherried Onions
Black bean soup has crawled out of the barrio onto the menus of some of America's most upscale eateries. The sherried red onions give this hearty soup a unique flare.

Ingredients:
1/2 pound smoky slab bacon
2 garlic cloves, smashed
3/4 pound dried black beans
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 small green chilies, seeds and stems removed and the chilies minced
2 quarts water
salt and pepper to taste
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced and separated into rings
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes

Directions:
1. Put bacon, garlic, beans, cumin, chilies, and water in soup pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer for about 2 hours, skimming foam if necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste.
2. While soup is simmering, set the red onion in a bowl to marinate with the sherry vinegar. When soup is ready, ladle into 8 bowls and top each serving with some marinated onion and a spoonful of the diced tomatoes.

Lucky residents of Miami, Florida and Union City, New Jersey -- the home cities of the two largest Cuban communities in the United States -- know that even the humblest Cuban lunch counter harbors a gold mine of bold, vivid flavors just waiting to be tapped by adventurous diners. Black bean soup, of course, has crawled out of the barrio onto the menus of some of America's most upscale eateries. Our version of this delicious Cuban mainstay is humble at heart, but it does feature an upscale twist: paper-thin slices of red onion marinated in sherry vinegar. Note that no stock is used in making this soup, but the whole piece of bacon gives it a deep, meaty flavor. Serves 8