Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sopa de Frijoles Colorados (Cuban Red Bean Soup)

Red and Black beans are the beans in Cuban cooking that usually accompany white rice, and any other side dishes. They are almost always served with dinner or some main meal of the day, They are a staple (though with modern times and all I've seen that due to time constraints or not that much involvement in the kitchen many just eat rice and on the other hand beans become occasional) More commonly the staple is black beans (for western Cuban cooking) and red beans is more popular in Eastern Cuba (or so I've read somewhere and or assume because of the popularity of "Congri" there as opposed to "Moros" which is more common in western Cuba) usually a meal will have.

In addition we sometimes cook large heavy Spanish and Cuban style bean stews with chorizo, lots of beef or pork, orange fleshed squash, potatoes, etc. one large hardy stand alone bean stew. These heavy stews can stand alone and need only rice or bread, and if one wishes a salad. Red beans are sometimes utilized to make these heavy "Potajes" such as my "Potaje de Frijoles Colorados" but sometimes I'm in the mood for a simple red bean soup that I can eat with as a side with any meal to accompany my rice, and meat or seafood sides and veggies.

So here I present a simple red bean soup that isn't a main stand alone meal, it just a simple red bean stew to be eaten as a side or over rice with whatever you'd like. A good change from when you get tired of eating the typical Cuban black beans (although I never do, but I like variety anyways)

-2 cups dry uncooked large red beans washed and drained
-water (enough to submerge red beans about 1 1/2 tsp 2 inches)
-1 onion minced
-1/2 head of garlic peeled minced and or mashed to a paste (garlic press or mortar)
-1 can 8 oz. tomato sauce
-4-6 cachucha peppers leave whole (depends on their size)
-1/4 to 1/3 cups lard or bacon grease (use pork fat for this NOT optional i.m.o)
-1/2 lbs. pork ham or pork meat cut into small 1/2 inch cubes (optional)
-1 small ham bone or pork bone (optional)
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1/2 teaspoon oregano
-salt to taste (I put about 1 1/2- 2 teaspoons eyeballed)

(1) Bring beans to a boil in water with pork bone or ham bone (optional). Boil until tender about 1 1/2- 2 hours depends.

(2) When beans are tender, heat lard or bacon grease (you can render some bacon grease by mincing bacon and frying it until it renders fat, and proceed), then add cubed pork meat or ham and brown meat (maybe takes 10- 15 minutes remember the meat is optional), when meat is browned (if you added some meat) add onion and cook until onion is translucent about 5 minutes, then add garlic and stir until fragrant. Add ground cumin and oregano stir a bit and when fragrant like 30 seconds add tomato sauce. Bring to a rolling boil
(3) Add what you sauteed in the lard and or bacon grease to the boiling beans when they are tender. Then add a handful of cachucha peppers (we call "Aji Cachucha"), add salt if needed, let beans simmer uncovered on medium heat until thickened stirring occasionally an additional 10- 20 minutes.
(4) Your done enjoy.
Please Note:
Even if the red beans are being served as a side or soup to accompany other stuff, I still like adding a little bit of chopped up pork meat because it lends good flavor as well as the bone. And it's not that much only 1/2 lbs. meat for 1 lbs. beans. You can leave out the meat completely if you wish and just make a "bacon" sofrito to.

(2) If you don't have "aji cachucha"/ cachucha peppers simply substitute by frying together with the onions 1 green bell pepper minced.

(3) Red beans depend heavily on pork, they are usually always cooked with pork products and are best that way to. But if for some reason your super kosher or paranoid (even though pork fat is less saturated than butter, high in monounsaturated fat, and most of it's saturated fat is stearic acid which converts to mono-fat in the body) then you can substitute for a good quality olive oil I guess, but it WONT BE THE SAME!
In Addition
I'm submitting this recipe over to Cook Sister who is hosting the famous My Legume Love Affair this month, brainchild of Susan at The Well-Seasoned Cook.