When my husband Jaime and I moved to Canada many years ago, one of the things we missed most about living in Mexico was its food. Not the renowned tacos and enchiladas (well, yes, those too) but the everyday homemade comfort food, especially during the winter months. Luckily, Jaime had an easy recipe for a hearty bean soup that can be garnished as plainly or as richly as sourcing some specialty items, like tortillas or chipotles, allows. Here is our recipe for a simple yet very filling and comforting soup, perfect for the colder months ahead.
Serves 6 to 8
- 400 g dried black or pinto beans or one 400 g can pre-cooked beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ large onion cut into chunks
- 1 tsp salt
- 20 coriander (cilantro) stems
- 1 to 1.25 l stock (chicken or vegetable) or water
- 50 g diced or crumbled feta cheese to serve (optional)
- Fried tortilla strips to serve (optional)
- Diced avocado to serve (optional)
- Chopped coriander to serve (optional)
- If you are using pre-cooked canned beans, skip to step 4. If you are using dried beans: the night before, start by quickly running the beans through your hands or spread them over the kitchen table to pick out any small stones or pieces of dirt that might have sneaked their way into the bag – this can happen with even the best of brands. Rinse the beans thoroughly in running water, then put them in a bowl and add enough cold water to cover the beans by 5cm. Soak overnight. The next day, drain the soaked beans in a colander and rinse them well with cold running water.
- Cooking the beans can take several hours, so I recommend using a pressure cooker, but a large pot will work too. Put the rinsed beans in the pot with the chopped onion. Never add salt before the beans are fully cooked, or they won’t soften properly.
- If you are using a pressure cooker add 1.5 l of boiling water, close the lid and cook for 35 minutes at medium pressure. If you are using a regular pot, add boiling water until it covers the beans by 10cm, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the beans are soft (2 to 3 hours). Check often to make sure the beans are always covered in 2 to 5cm of water; add more boiling water if needed. When the beans are cooked turn off the heat and add the salt and coriander.
- If you are using pre-cooked canned beans: put them in a pot with 500 ml of stock and the onion, and cook until the onion is soft. Add salt (if needed, depending on how seasoned the canned beans are) and coriander.
- Liquefy the beans (including the onions and coriander) thoroughly in a blender and return them to the pot. We prefer using an immersion blender to avoid transferring boiling hot liquid from pot to blender and back.
- Turn the heat to medium and add 500 to 750 ml of stock or water. It’s a good idea to start with only 500 ml and if the consistency is too thick for your liking then add 250 ml more, keeping in mind that bean soup is supposed to have a heavy-creamy texture. If you used beans from a can, add enough stock to reach the consistency described above.
- Salt to taste and heat to serving temperature.
- To serve, garnish each bowl to taste with any or all of the following: fried tortilla strips, diced avocado, diced or crumbled feta cheese, chopped coriander and/or chopped chipotles. Enjoy!
Ceramics by Anna Ceramics
Text and photography by Andrea Marvan: Mondegreen Studio