Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

One of my dirty little secret passions is scouring tiendas, marinas, abarrotes, and supermercados for basic foodstuffs that I’ve never seen – even in California. These are a few of the amazing and delicious discoveries that I have made.

Sheila’s Famous Black Bean Soup

Special Note on Beans: Some people are much more sensitive to the gaseous effects of this musical fruit. If you are a newbie to beans, or particularly sensitive, you can soak the beans, for as little as one hour or overnight. Be sure to drain and rinse the beans before adding to the pot. You can also add one tablespoon of baking soda when you add the water. Personally, I prefer the texture of beans that have not been pre-soaked.

2-3 T olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly slice
2-8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1-2 chili peppers of your choice, seeded, deveined and finely chopped
Zest of 1-2 limes or lemons
1 T honey or sugar
1 T spicy mustard
1-2 T anise or fennel seeds
1-2 t chili powder
1-2 t cumin
¼ t allspice
¼ t celery seed
2 C dried black beans, rinsed
4-6 C water
1 small can tomato paste
Juice of 1-2 limes or lemons
Salt & pepper to taste

Suggested Condiments:

~ Creamy White Stuff (yogurt, sour cream, yogurt/sour cream blend)
~ Shredded cheddar or jack cheese
~ Additional lime or lemon juice
~ Chopped green onions
~ Salsa Caliente

Heat oil and add onion and salt. Sauté onion until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and chili peppers, sauté about 5 minutes, until garlic is just beginning to brown. Stir in honey or sugar and mustard, add zest and spices and stir, adding ¼ water to release flavor of spices. Stir in beans and sauté for another couple minutes. Add enough water to cover the beans, turn heat to low, simmer with lid on but slightly askew. Stir occasionally and add water as beans expand. (Personally, I like my beans more on the stew side than the soup side, so I add as little water as possible.)

Once beans are cooked to your desired tenderness, about 2-3 hours, stir in tomato paste, salt, pepper, and lime juice to taste, and serve with your favorite condiments.

Beans can also be served over rice or chopped cabbage. It is also great topped with a fried egg.

Buen Provecho!

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