Black Bean Soup: A Quest

There are foods about which we have a singular, perfect, conception. Then there are food about which we have misconceptions. Certain recipes turn out perfectly each time, mainly ones taken off the back of a box. The pickles and celery I add to potato might be considered a misconception by some. Personally, I have no conception of Cuban Black Bean Soup.

I thought I knew what Cuban Black Bean Soup tasted like; I even thought I wanted it for dinner. I made it once, so long ago that I can’t pin-point the year, and my sole remaining memory is  that the recipe was very specific on one point. The recipe ordered me to mash half the beans – and unless the beans were mashed that soup was not Cuban, it claimed. So I mashed those beans until I felt cultured, accomplished, and bored. We dined like recipe-approved Cuban kings on that soup. Recently, when I felt in need of accomplishment – and soup – so I pulled out a recipe for Cuban Black Bean Soup.

The recipe was from a trusted cookbook. If it hadn’t been for that, I’d have found a new recipe as soon as I saw that this one doesn’t call for mashing the black beans. As it was, I trusted my cookbook, and used its recipe. The beans were not mashed, it was light on cumin, and the directions lacked Cuban attitude. I might not have remembered the taste of Cuban Black Bean Soup, but I when I tasted what I made, I knew that wasn’t it. However, it was a very good soup, especially when adapted to accommodate the contents of my fridge and freezer. This week, as the weather turned cold and brutish, I thought longingly of my Non-Cuban Black Bean Soup. Now I think I’ll go enjoy some, and you should too.

Non-Cuban Black Bean Soup

1 onion, diced

dollop of oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 jalapeno, diced [de-seeded – unless you want to add a fieriness to the heat of the jalapeno]

1 green pepper, diced

1 qt soup stock

1 can black beans/1 cup dried beans, cooked

1 cup corn [fresh cut or frozen]

1 tbsp mango chutney

1 tsp cumin

Sautee onion and garlic, add diced green pepper and jalapeno. Add in remaining ingredients, bring to a boil. Once a rolling boil is achieved, cover and simmer for one to three hours. It’s soup – the longer you cook it the better it’ll be.

For those of you still waiting to have some authentic Cuban Black Bean Soup, go to Trader Joe’s and buy a box of Cuban Black Bean soup, heat, and eat; it’s just right.

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