So when I was in Mexico a few months ago, I had one of the best soups of my life at a restaurant in Tula de Allende that served comida casera – roughly speaking, “home-style cooking” – but entirely vegetarian. I asked the proprietor, Cristina, for the recipe, which she roughly described in the telegraphic style of home cooks everywhere. A bit of this, a bit of that, and a good dose of black beans. Unfortunately, I left the scrap of paper with my notes on the bus back to Mexico City. However, with some experimentation over the winter, I was able to roughly recreate the soup with ingredients readily available in the United States.
The soup is chock-full of ingredients beloved by Jewish communities: beans, garlic, tomatoes, squash, and peppers among them. Though some would tell you that this is a “weeknight” dish, I would consider this soup better for languorous weekend cooking, when you have the time to spare a while to cook a big hearty soup. Eat leftovers during the week, when the myth of so-called “easy” home cooking is most apparent.
Sopa de Frijoles y Calabaza con Fideos
1 large onion, diced
7 cloves white garlic, minced
2 dried ancho chilies, broken apart into small pieces (keep the seeds if you want it spicy)
1 tablespoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar
1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 large kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped into chunks
1 8oz/225g can corn kernels, drained (or 1 cup cooked corn)
2 15-oz/425g cans black beans, drained (or 4 cups soaked black beans)
2 sprigs dried epazote (optional)
8 cups water or stock + more as needed + more for noodles
1 package thin noodles (any shape you wish)
3 fistfuls fresh spinach, chopped
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Sour cream, chili sauce, and cilantro for garnish
- Heat a soup pot or Dutch oven over a high flame. Add oil.
- Add the onions, garlic, and chili and saute for 2-3 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften.
- Add the salt, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, and nutmeg. Saute for another minute, or until the onions are translucent. Then, add the vinegar and saute for one more minute.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and mix well. Saute for another minute, or until the juices are bubbling.
- Add the squash, corn, and black beans, then add water and/or stock. If the water and stock do not cover, add a bit more. Bring to a boil. Add epazote if using.
- Simmer for 45 minutes covered, or until the squash is completely cooked.
- While the soup is simmering, prepare the noodles in a separate pot according to package directions.
- Once the squash is cooked, add the spinach and stir in such that it is cooked. Remove from heat. You can add the noodles if you want, although I prefer to store the noodles separately.
- Serve the soup with a helping of noodles and sour cream, chili sauce, and/or cilantro as a garnish. The soup keeps well for at least a week.
Es improbable que ella lea esto, pero mil gracias a Cristina en Tula de Allende por su receta excelente, y me disculpo si haya olvido algunos aspectos importantes.