Back on the block, in my family, this was one of our popular meals, especially when times were lean. Essentially it was just a soup of garlic and beans but, through time, we added other ingredients to enhance our palette. That’s the beauty of this dish. You can doctor it anyway you want depending upon what’s on hand. In terms of the beans, we always liked white beans, although it also works with garbanzo beans (chick peas). We never did it with red, black or pinto beans, although you’re welcomed to try and let me know how it works out.
In our version, apart from the garlic, we add parsley, marjoram, salt and pepper, and sazón accent (you can substitute Goya sazón if desired). You can also use a teaspoon of turmeric in place of the sazôn. Your choice. Note that in our culture, we soak the beans overnight and then cook the following day. If you’re press for time you can do the quick soaking method: drain beans, place in a heavy pot or Dutch oven with 2 quarts (8 cups) water and bring to a boil. Cover and boil over moderate-low heat and cook until beans are almost ender. Then follow recipe as given. Also note that the recipe calls for water or chicken broth. To us unsophisticates, adding 2 chicken bouillon cubes to the water counts as chicken broth—unless you have ready made chicken broth on hand.
With a good crusty loaf of bread you have a perfect inexpensive or (as my father use to say) beggar’s banquet. And you can make the soup as thick as you want adding less water (about 4 cups) and turn it into a stew.
SOPA DE AHJO Y HABICHUELAS
1 pound dry white beans
2 quart water or chicken broth (or less if you want to make it into a stew)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 clove garlic, peeled and minced
4 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh chopped marjoram or 1 teaspoon dried
1 large potato cut into chunks (wash, scrub but do not peel)
1 packet sazón accent
Salt and ground black pepper to atste
- Soak beans overnight in a pot with water to cover. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Place in a heavy kettle or Dutch oven with 2 quarts water or chicken broth. Bring to a boil, cover and boil over moderate-low heat until beans are tender, about 1 hour.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet or frying pan and sauté garlic, parsley and marjoram for 3 minutes. Add to beans along with the potato chunks and sazôn. Stir to combine.
- Add salt and pepper and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings.