You will almost always find one, or two, or even three cookbooks on my Christmas list. They are my weakness. I have a whole shelf full of them, and I am not ashamed of it at all. I love cookbooks, and I know I’ve struck upon a good one when I keep returning to it as a reference or source of inspiration.
One of the books that I received this year was Decolonize Your Diet by Luz Calvo and Catriona Rueda Esquibel. I was originally intrigued by their website/blog because they have a variety of interesting Mexican recipes such as tepache, a fermented pineapple drink and banana vinegar. When I noticed they had a book, I was super excited. Unfortunately, my local library did not have a copy, so I put it on my Christmas wish list.
This book definitely did not disappoint. It explores foods and recipes that are ancestral and plant-based and discusses the diet of people living in rural Mexico and Central America. Essentially it looks at the foods people would have eaten before the Spanish arrived.
Luz and Catriona’s research led them to find that foods from the pre-Hispanic era were some of the healthiest foods on the planet (i.e. beans, squash, wild greens, and non-GMO corn) and that many of the unhealthy foods in Western diets today were the result of colonization (i.e. wheat, beef, cheese, cooking oils, and sugar).
This Purépecha bean soup was one of the first recipes that I bookmarked in Decolonize Your Diet. It incorporates so many ingredients that I love (beans, tomatoes, chiles) and is topped with even more delicious fixings (avocado, baked corn tortillas, chile strips, and queso fresco).
The beans take on a irresistibly complex flavor as a result of dried pasilla chiles. The recipe below is my version Luz and Catriona’s soup with a few adaptations. It is a wonderful winter dish that will leave you feeling satisfied.
Sopa Purépecha de frijol
Click here for printable recipe.
1 cup dried pinto beans
1 cup dried mayocoba beans*
1/8 white onion
Drizzle of olive oil
10 cups of water
1 TBSP salt (I like to use Himalayan sea salt because it doesn’t contain any anti-caking agents.)
→Remove any broken beans or debris from the beans and then rinse.
→Put the beans in a pressure cooker and fill with 10 cups of water. Drizzle about 2 teaspoons of olive oil into the water and add the white onion (no need to chop it). Cook on high until the pressure cooker starts to sputter and spin. Then lower the temperature so that the top rocks steadily and continues to spin and release steam. Cook for 40 minutes at the lower temperature.
→Alternatively, if you don’t have a pressure cooker, place the beans, water, oil, and onion in a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat to a simmer, and let the beans cook partially covered for 1.5 hours or until soft.
→When the beans are slightly cooled, use a blender to purée them. You will need to work in batches. You want to add both the cooking liquid and the beans to the blender. Blend until smooth and pour into a bowl. Once all of the beans are blended, add 1 TBSP of sea salt and stir.
4 plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
2 cloves garlic, in their peel
1/8 white onion
1-2 tsp sea salt
→Remove the stems, veins, and seeds from the dried pasilla chiles.
→On a medium-hot comal/griddle, cook the chiles for about 1 minute on each side being sure not to burn them. They should smell fragrant, but not burnt.
→Put chiles in a bowl, cover with boiling water, and let soak for 30 minutes.
→On a hot comal/griddle (I like to line mine with foil because it makes clean up easier.), roast tomatoes, garlic, and onion until they just begin to blacken on all sides.
→Remove peels from garlic. Add garlic, onion, tomatoes, and rehydrated chiles to the blender. Blend until completely smooth (about 1 minute). You may need to add a little of the chile cooking water to loosen the blades.
→In a large pot, drizzle a few teaspoons of olive oil. Heat over medium heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the chile purée being careful to stand back because it will splatter. Wear an apron when you do this because it will likely splatter on your clothes. Cook the purée for about 10 minutes stirring constantly.
→Stir in the bean purée and bring mixture to a slow boil. Add an additional 1-2 teaspoons of sea salt to taste. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to allow flavors to meld.
5 corn tortillas*
→Preheat the oven to 400°F.
→Cut tortillas in half, then crosswise into ¼-inch strips. Put the tortillas in a mixing bowl. Drizzle about 1 TBSP of olive on them. Add salt to taste.
→Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and shake until all of the strips are coated with oil and salt.
→Spread strips over a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, turning after 8 minutes.
1 dried ancho chile*
Avocado or grapeseed oil
→Remove the stems, veins and seeds from the ancho chile. Wash and dry well since you will be putting this in oil. Any bit of water on the chile will cause the oil to spit up.
→Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, cut chiles lengthwise into thin, 1/8” strips.
→In a small frying pan on medium heat, heat avocado oil. Have a paper towel-lined plate and tongs ready.
→When the oil is hot, quickly add the chile strips. Fry for a MAXIMUM OF 10-15 SECONDS so that the chiles don’t burn. They tend to burn quickly and can taste unpleasant. Remove and place on paper towels to drain.
→The chile strips will still be somewhat soft and pliable.
1-2 ripe avocados
1 cup crumbled queso fresco
→Serve soup in bowls and garnish with tortilla strips, chile strips, chunks of avocado, and queso fresco.
- If you can’t find mayocoba beans, you can use an additional cup of pinto beans. Bayo or flor de mayo beans will also work.
- Look for dried chiles in the Hispanic section of your grocery store or visit your local Mexican/Latin American market.
- When possible look for organic, non-GMO corn tortillas. These can be hard to find, but they are worth seeking out.
Recipe Source: Adapted from DeColonize Your Diet (a fantastic collection of healthy Mexican/Pre-hispanic food)