Happy New Year everybody! 2016 was certainly a busy and weird year for me. It saw loads of ups and downs and a trip to Mexico after a long absence. It was great to see my family, to get a rest and to reconnect with friends. I came back all fired up and full of beans (literally!) so I am determined to make 2017 a good year. Loads of projects in the pipeline, some real work on my book - been putting it off for far too long- but mainly I want to write regularly in the blog again.... for a while I got bogged down with life and work and with that of the sudden death of my brother, I sort of lost my mojo a little... so making good to the promise to spend more time here with you, alas, here I am, writing another recipe.
These days I'm trying to find quick and easy ways to eat well and quick, this fabulous Bayo Bean Soup is a great example. It's full of flavour and quite wholesome, with the added bonus of taking just about 20 minutes to make. I used Bayo beans because I like them a lot, but you can use Black beans if that's your thing. Also, I used tinned beans - love La Sierra ones for quickness and tastiness - but by all means, you can cook the beans from scratch and then make them into a soup. Here's an older post on how to cook black beans from scratch, but same applies to bayo and pinto beans.
This soup is a take on Frijoles Charros, or Charro Beans, a very traditional, hearty soup form the north of Mexico. I got really good quality smoked pancetta in the shop, but every suppermarket stocks some sort of pancetta and if all fails, streaky rashers would do too. I hope you like this recipe as much as we did!
Heat the oil in a heavy bottom pot or a deep pan. Non stick is best. Add the pancetta and cook for a couple of minutes until the pancetta starts to brown a little.
Add the onion, garlic, chilli and bell peppers and mix well. Cook for 2 minutes or until the onion is translucent and the bell peppers begin to soften. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
Add the tomatoes and mix well. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes and follow by adding the fresh coriander. Although we weighted the coriander with stock and everything, I only use the leaves here. There's a lot of flavour in the stocks, but since we're not blending this soup, they would not be very pleasant in the soup, so discard them and use only the leaves. Cook for a further minute or until the tomatoes have gone soft and saucy.
Open the tins of beans and drain half the liquid only. Pour the beans and the remaining of their liquid into the sauce in the pan and mix well. Follow by adding the hot water and mix gently. Simmer for 2 minutes and season with salt and black pepper to taste.
The soup is ready! Serve it hot as a starter or as a great lunch. The smokey taste of the pancetta and the sauce compliments the beans really well. It is the perfect soup for a cold, winter's day. Enjoy!