Yield: 12-18 servings


  • 1 or 2 meaty smoked ham hocks or turkey legs (about 1½ pounds)
  • Olive oil
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 medium to large onions, chopped into ½ inch dice
  • 1 each small to medium green and red bell pepper, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Approximately Two 14-ounce cans chicken or vegetable broth
  • 6 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 t. ground cumin
  • 1 ½ t. dried oregano
  • 3 generous T. tomato paste
  • Three 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 limes, halved or about ½ cup cider vinegar


  1. Sour cream, cilantro leaves for garnish
  2. Trim the meat away from the ham hock bone, cutting it into small pieces. Don't be too fussy; leaving some on the bone is fine.
  3. In a large soup pot place a thin film of olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Stir in the meat, bone, cloves, onions, bell peppers, and a coupe of healthy pinches of salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are sizzling and there's a brown glaze on the bottom of the pan (the vegetables need not brown, and take care not to let that glaze blacken).
  4. Add the garlic, bay leaves, cumin and oregano. Sauté until garlic and spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and season with freshly ground pepper.
  5. Add half the broth and with a wooden spatula, scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer; add the beans and the enough broth to make a desired consistency. Allow soup to simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
  6. Stir in the juice from 2½ limes or 1/3 cup of the vinegar. Taste the soup for seasoning. Adjust salt, pepper, and lime juice or vinegar to taste.
  7. Enjoy hot, garnished with sour cream and cilantro.

© Copyright Chef Shellie Kark KitchenCUE 2011

Recipe By: Chef Shellie Kark