1 lb dried pinto beans
2 T olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock, low sodium
2 t Mexican oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 t ground black pepper
6 slices thick meaty bacon, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 (14.5 oz) can tomatoes, diced
1 (4 oz) can mild or hot green chiles, chopped
1/4 t cayenne – or more to taste
1 T cilantro
Sea salt to taste
Garnishes: Mexican melting cheese or fresh crumbling cheese, diced avocado, chopped cilantro, and sliced green onions, pico de gallo, serranos, jalapenos
Spoon Mage™ Note:
Take care sorting through the beans. The method used in harvesting means that sometimes you will find a stone mixed in with the beans. Stones are not a delicious seasoning.
For more details about cooking with dried beans, click here.
The amount of cayenne here makes a flavorful soup with a slight bit of heat. Increase it if you like spicy foods. If you do not have cayenne, try substituting a few chopped serrano peppers or jalapenos. If everyone likes hot spicy food, go ahead and add them along with the cayenne. They provide a nice bit of color in addition to flavor.
When one of your guests expresses concern about spicy foods, do not fret. Add only about 1/8 of a teaspoon to the pot. It will provide a background flavor, without the heat. I tested this on my son-in-law who does not like any spicy food. For the rest at the table, serve a number of sliced hot peppers or bottles of hot sauce for people to make their bowls as they like it.
Sort the beans. Pour them into a large pot or Dutch oven. Add enough water to the pot to cover the beans by 2 inches – the beans will expand as they take in water. Cover with a lid to soak overnight, or use the quick method directions on the package if you forgot to soak them overnight. Once the beans have soaked, pour the beans through a strainer and quickly rinse.
Return the empty pot to the stove and set the burner to medium-high. Add the olive oil, onion and celery. Sauté for about 6-8 minutes, or until the onion softens and starts to brown.
Reduce heat to medium and add the garlic. Stir frequently, until the aroma tells you that the garlic is cooking – at least two minutes, but five is better. Don’t let the garlic burn. If your stove runs hot, reduce the heat to medium-low for this step.
Return the beans to the pot. Add the low sodium chicken stock, Mexican oregano, ground cumin, and black pepper.
Bring to a very low simmer. Cover with a slightly tilted lid and cook for two hours, stirring every now and then.
In a medium sized skillet set over medium heat, brown the bacon strips. When the bacon is well browned, pour the bacon and any fat into the bean pot.
Add the tomatoes, green chiles, and cayenne. Continue to simmer on low for one hour with the lid tilted.
Taste and adjust for your taste bud’s preference on salt.
Stir in 1 tablespoon of the cilantro and simmer for five minutes more.
Use a potato masher to smash a few beans. The idea is to thicken the stock while keeping the soup chunky. Do not smash so much it becomes smooth. A few up and downs with the masher is fine.