This is a variation on a recipe from a well-known restaurant in Santa Fe. Black beans, aka turtle beans or frijoles negros, do not require overnight soaking. I still soak them for an hour or so, to drown any extra animal protein and because I’m usually cooking a few other things at the same time.
Rinse one 1 lb bag of beans, or use one or two cans of pre-cooked beans. If you are going to add a little sausage (chorizo or other strongly flavored sausage), precook it now and let it drain if it is really fatty. Saute garlic in olive oil (I like a heaping tablespoon of garlic and the same amount of oil, you might prefer less garlic), add 1/2 to 1 cup celery (chopped medium-fine). Cook three minutes or so. Add the beans, two cups of chicken or vegetable broth plus water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for an hour. Meanwhile, chop a half cup of ham or sausage (the good stuff.) Add the sausage and some spices (I like a little chipotle chili and some cumin, others use oregano), cook for an additional hour or until the beans are soft and the meat and spices are well blended.
Now, soup or straight? If you want soup, run about 3/4 of the beans and liquid through a blender or food processor, return to pot, add a little more liquid, heat, and serve with a bit of white cheese, slices of tomato, and a shot of good balsamic vinegar. For straight beans, cook down until the beans are your preferred consistency for beans, serve with or without cheese, as a side, or as a main dish with white or brown rice for beans-n-rice, formerly known as Cristianos y Moros.