Pinto bean soup (Sopa de frijol)
Beans are one of the staples of the Mexican diet and come in dozens of varieties. The simple process of cooking them gently with onion and an aromatic herb is perhaps the most common method of preparation for any and all beans in Mexico.
You can watch the clip of me cooking this recipe on the SBS Food website: http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/pinto-bean-soup-sopa-de-frijol
Note: You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead
1 cup dried pinto beans
2 small white onion, finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
2 sprigs of epazote (or 1 x Bay leaf + 1 sprig Thyme)
100 g queso fresco, crumbled (or mild Greek-style Cow Fetta)
½ cup finely chopped white onion
½ small bunch coriander, chopped
2 serrano chilli, finely chopped (or jalapeño)
4 ripe egg tomatoes ½ white onion, cut into quarters
2 small chipotle chilli (dried)
1 clove garlic, peeled
½ cup water
salt, to taste
One day before cooking, add 6 cups of water to the pinto beans and soak in a 2.5 litre straight-sided pot.
The next day, bring the pinto beans to the boil and skim off any impurities that float to the surface. Add the tomato, onion and epazote and simmer until the beans are tender. This should take around two hours but will vary depending on the beans. Squeeze one between your fingers; it should be pasty and smooth. If required, top up with hot water while cooking.
When ready, remove the epazote stem then mash the beans lightly with a potato masher. Add water to your desired consistency, but remember it will thicken on standing. Add salt to taste.
To serve, ladle into a bowl and garnish with the crumbled queso fresco. Arrange the chopped onion, coriander and serrano chilli on small side plates for each person to add to their tastes. Serve with the chipotle salsa.
To make the salsa chipotle, remove the stems from the chillies then cut them open and remove the seeds.
Using a comal or skillet, roast the onion, tomato and garlic together. The tomatoes should be roasted though and the onion soft and translucent. Toast the chilli quickly on the comal, pressing them flat with tongs to ensure even toasting. Toast for around 20 seconds each side, or until they puff up slightly.
Combine all ingredients with the water and salt in a blender and process until smooth. Adjust seasoning and serve.
• Fresh epazote has no real substitute, but if unavailable fresh bay leaves or thyme will work well to add some complimentary flavour to the beans. If queso freso is unavailable, use a Greek style mild cow’s milk feta in its place. If serrano chilli is unavailable, jalapeño is a good substitute.