Madrina’s Cuban Style Black Bean Soup

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This beautiful combination of Flamenco and Salsa(Bebo & Cigala, Lagrimas Negras) is a reflexion of my heritage, and maybe it will inspire you to add some extra spice to your black beans, it does for me! It’s fantastic music, and will liven up any party.

Madrina’s Cuban Style Black Bean Soup

This black velvety soup has a very sensual and comforting quality to it, the slightly bitter sweet touch of the black beans combined with the tangy tomatoes, smoky chipotle accent and the cilantro garnish gives the dish an exotic down to earth naughtiness.

2 ups dried black beans
1 or 2 onions cut in smallish cubes
3 garlic cloves minced
1 green pepper in large cubes
about 3 or 4 chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
oregano
cumin
2 tbs. olive oil
sea salt
1 tsp. rice vinegar
1/8 of a cup dry sherry
chipotle adobo(optional)
finely cut cilantro or flat leaf parsley

-cook the beans and bay leaf for 45 minutes in a pressure cooker in 2 times the amount of water(if not pressure cooking soak the beans overnight and cook in a regular soup pan until the beans are soft)
-heat the olive oil in a soup pan and saute the garlic, onions and green pepper
-add the oregano and cumin to the pan and saute until the onions begin to soften
-add the tomatoes
-add the cooked beans to the soup pan with extra water if necessary and sea salt
-let the soup cook for 20-30 minutes at low fire.
-add the vinegar, dry sherry and optional chipotle and cook for another 2 minutes
-adjust the salt

A Story

When I was a kid in Cuba I loved listening to my mom tell me stories about her own childhood. One story I particularly remember was about a time when my mother had been quite sick. She had a long recovery period, in which the doctor had advised her to eat very well in order to gain her strength back and continue to grow. At that time my mother didn’t have a good appetite as a result of her illness, and her parents didn’t know what else to do to get her to eat better. Her godmother or “madrina” suggested that she went to spend sometime in the countryside with her, and promised my grandmother that she would have my mother eating in no time. This woman was older and had no children, she had time to spend creating dishes that would please a fussy child like my mom.

The godmother was also fussy herself and very neat. The story goes that for the godmother to make sure that her house was clean she would have my mom go outside the house lay on the floor across the street and look inside her house from a laying position to make sure that there were no difficult to see particles of dust, and that her floor was impeccably shiny and clean.
In spite of her madrina’s obsessive behaviour my mom had a great time during her extended visit. My mom remembers her godmother making black bean soup with a special touch to make it irresistible to her. Her godmother would decorate the soup by making a circle of “platanos maduros fritos” or fried plantains around the edge of the plate. As a child I really loved this story and this dish. To me this soup is comfort food at its best
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