White Beans and Pork Rib Soup (Sopa de Frijoles Blancos con Costilla de Cerdo)

This is my tribute to my soup-loving friends at work- my version of White Beans and Pork Rib Soup which is a Salvadorian fare.  I had this once upon Claudia's recommendation and I thought I'd make it for the girls since they're raving about it.  I don't even have to look for a recipe because it's pretty easy to decode just by the taste.  I've made something similar before minus the beans.  Still, I ventured to find out if I was correct and I found most of the recipes use purely white beans and pork ribs with carrots as the sole vegetable.  I think the addition of corn, cabbage and yucca makes the soup more delicious and healthy.  

You may think by the look that it is so rich but it has no cream, just the yucca and beans doing the work of thickening the soup making it more hearty and robust.  The carrots, cabbage and corn adds that fresh sweetness that turns the soup into real flavorful dish.  Here's how I made it:

White Beans and Pork Rib Soup

2 ½ cups dried white beans
10 cups water or more to cover the beans
3 lbs pork ribs cut into small pieces
4 small bay leaves
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped tomato
2 tsp annatto powder - see instruction below
2 tsp salt
fresh thyme
freshly ground black pepper to taste
dried oregano for serving

half of a head of cabbage cut into 6
3 pieces carrots sliced diagonally- about half inch
4 corn – each sliced into 4
yucca (about six 1 ½ pieces then cut each piece in two) 

Sort through the beans and discard any shriveled/broken or discolored beans
Rinse in cold water then soak overnight
Place in large pot, and add the 10 cups of water or enough to cover the beans
Over medium to high heat bring to a boil, and then add the ribs, bay leaves, garlic, onion, tomato, annatto, salt, and thyme. 
Bring everything back to a full boil, add the yucca and corn, cover, and immediately reduce heat to medium.
Cook the soup for about an hour or so stirring every so often
You will notice that the soup thicken because of the yucca and the beans
Taste if it needs more salt or pepper
Scoop out the bay leaves and the little stems of thyme
Add the carrots and when the soup is almost done and cook for another five minutes before adding the cabbage.  Just push the pieces gently into the soup
Serve hot with sprinkles of dried oregano
Note:  I dissolved the annatto powder in a pan with oil over medium heat then added water before I transferred it into the pot   
The verdict?  They loved it! What's not to like in this delicious mix of fresh vegetables with the meat falling off the bones- thanks to the butcher who cut the ribs into small pieces; the broth which is packed with delicious flavors. I'm sure this is not the last time I'm making this.


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