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Hey OKC : Epazote is the crowning glory for Black Bean Soup

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Black Bean Soup has a thick, dark brown broth and rich tasting beans, slow cooked is best.

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4 qt Crock pot ( this is an electric stand, which houses a ceramic pot)

Cast iron skillet or comal http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comal_(cookware)

1/2 white onion roughly chopped

6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

1/2 an Ancho chile, seeded. No need to reconstitute this dried pepper, as it will do that when cooking. This is a mild flavored pepper, usually sold in Mexican/Latin spice section. Buy For Less has these, they come in packs of 8 or so.

Olive oil, 1 tsp .

Heat the skillet until very hot. Basically, the plan is to semi-blacken the above mixture for a specific texture and flavor.

1/2 pkg dry GOYA Black Beans ( Buy For Less has Turtle beans in bulk in bins. These are smaller, rounder beans and either works fine.)

Rinse and pick over the beans, and deposit in the cooker. Beans have mud, rocks and other potential debris and this is a must do step.

Add the grilled vegetables as above.

Cover with water, to the top rim of the cooker ( sometimes use chicken stock, all or part)

Add 1 Tbsp whole leaf Mexican Oregano ( this is different than American or other oregano, see the photo) also available at Mexican/Latin spice section. This has a lighter flavor. Crush as added to pot.

1- 2 Tbsp ground cayenne pepper, or skip if hot is not ok.

1 Tbsp ground Cumin ( this is the round rich scent most people associate with Mexican cooking.)

1 tsp ground hot mustard

1 Tbsp Epazote (this recipe used dried leaves, crumbled.) Many OKC markets now offer fresh frond bundles of Epazote. If using fresh, add at the last 30 minutes of cooking. If dried, add from the beginning of cooking. This spice is what makes most people love and crave black bean soup. It is the secret ingredient like FILE is to Gumbo.

Salt ...this is to taste, runs 1/2 -1 Tbsp

Stir the ingredients in the cooker, and put the lid on. Turn the cooker on high and allow it to run for about 8 hours. So, technically if this is begun about breakfast time, it is ready by supper time.

Cooking in the clay pot of the Crockpot makes the beans have a certain texture. Allowing the 8 hour stretch eliminates the need to soak the dried beans.

Cooking time can be shortened by soaking the beans over night. Some people prefer to change the liquid after soaking, others see the richer broth gained by keeping the soaking water as the cooking water.

This soup is served typically with dishes of condiments that allow the diner to construct their own final dish. Condiments such as pico de gallo ( fresh tomatoes, jalepeno, cilantro ( the Mexican parsley) and onion in vinegar, freshly made), Picante Sauce ( PACE out of Texas is a reliable product for this cooked salsa of tomatoes, peppers and onion of varying spicy temps), sour cream ( American) or cream fraiche ( strained cream that is Mexican), queso anejo ( see below because this matters) and sliced or sieved egg. chopped white onion or scallion, chopped jalepeno or habanero peppers. Serve with fresh, warm corn tortillas or corn bread.

This soup could host grilled meats, like pork, beef or chicken ok. Super firm tofu chunks added at the end of cooking would work ok. This dish is fine for supper as above, or beans alone for breakfast or tucked into a tortilla with an egg and chorizo and a spot of fresh spinach leaves as this Uptown Oklahoma City kitchen serves.

Queso anejo is completely addictive. http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/holidays/cincodemayo/mexican-ch... It is the salty, chunky parmesan of the Mexican kitchen. Diana Kennedy is a historian and food goddess when it comes to the first person to really sink into Mexican culture across their states and find hole-in-the-wall beloved regional eateries sharing their recipes and families sharing their private kitchens and recipes. Delightful. Completely delightful.

Happy eating!

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