Makes 8 cups, 4 servings

Notes: This recipe has been adapted from Cafe Pasqual's Cookbook, by Katharine Kagel (Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 1993).

How to Make It

Step 1

Sort beans for debris, then rinse. Bring beans and 2 quarts water to a boil over high heat in a 5- to 6-quart pan. Cover, boil for 2 minutes, and remove from heat. Beans are ready to cook after soaking for 2 hours, but are more digestible after 4 hours. Drain and rinse beans.

Step 2

In a 6- to 8-quart pan, bring 7 cups water and beans to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 45 minutes.

Step 3

Meanwhile, in a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, stir bacon often until browned, about 5 minutes. Lift bacon from pan; drain on towels.

Step 4

Discard all but 3 tablespoons fat from pan. Add chilies and onion; stir often until onion is brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in brandy.

Step 5

Add mixture to beans, plus bacon, salt, and pepper. Simmer, covered, until beans are tender, about 30 minutes.

Step 6

Ladle soup into bowls. Spoon black beans on top of soup. Garnish with cilantro.

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