Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Basic Bean Soup - Mexican Style

Devin enjoying the beans!Back in the day when I was a child, my grandmother used to to simmer beans all day long in an clay pot, known as an olla. Today, modern materials have replaced the olla with preassure cookers, but you can still find the burnished ollas used in rural areas and small remote towns.

These beans are meant to be quite soupy, with the beans spooned into small bowls or cups along with their flavorful broth. Nowadays, my tias make these beans as a side dish for almost everything we eat: birria, carne asada, pollo frito, etc. Here, beautiful Devin is spooning some beans onto her plate. Yum-O!


  • 2 cups dried pinto beans, sorted and washed, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lard or Crisco
  • 2 sprigs epazote (optional)
  • 4 quarts water
  • salt to taste
  1. Place the beans in a large stockpot (or clay pot, if you have one) with the onion, garlic, lard, epazote and water. DO NOT ADD SALT. Cover and cook for 4 hours or until tender. Alternatively, beans may be cooked in a pressure cooker--just follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  2. When the beans are done, remove about 1 cup of them and mash or puree them with some of their liquid. Add the mashed beans back to the pot, and continue cooking a few more minutes, until the mashed beans have thickened the bean broth a bit. Now you can add salt to taste.
  3. Serve the beans in the clay pot or an attractive, heat-proof bowl. Pass a platter of garnishes - chopped onions, crumbled cheese, chopped cilantro. If you have any leftover beans, you can make refried beans out of them.

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