Cuban Black Bean Soup

6 slices lean bacon
2 cloves garlic, chopped
large onion, chopped
green pepper, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon thyme
5-6 cups beef bouillon or vegetable stock
1 can black beans, undrained
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon lime juice (optional)
dash hot red pepper sauce
low-fat sour cream
chopped fresh thyme or parsley for garnish

In a 4-quart saucepan, heat the bacon until starting to crisp. Add the garlic, onion, and green pepper, stir-frying for about 5 minutes. Add the cumin and thyme and continue cooking for 2 minutes longer. Stir in the stock, beans, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are as tender as you like them . (I simmer for only 10 minutes.) Remove from heat. (Optional step I leave out: carefully puree about 2 cups of the beans and vegetables in a blender or food processor. Return pureed mixture to the soup.) Stir in lime juice and red pepper sauce. Serve garnished with a spoonful of sour cream and a little chopped thyme or parsley. Goes well with crusty bread or rolls.

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