November in the UK brings the Anniversary of the unsuccessful Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Whether you celebrate Guy Fawkes’ Night with fireworks or not, it’s a good time to have a bonfire to clear up the garden; or the allotment plot, and enjoy some belly warming soup. So this is my homely contribution: Pinto bean soup made with a ancho chilli pepper.
A few months ago, my oldest nephew was up for the weekend. He always brings me something, and it is often food related. This time it was three packets of dried Mexican chillies: habernero, chipotle and ancho. Although I was familiar with all, I had never actually cooked with ancho chillies before, so was curious to try it and the best way to was to make some soup. The ancho chilli pepper added a mellow sweetness with a subtle chilli kick.
Pinto Bean Soup with Ancho chilli pepper
2 cups pinto beans*
2 onions finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons of sunflower or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 Ancho chilli
Chopped fresh coriander leaves for garnish.
Optional: to serve with soured cream or grated cheddar cheese
Soak the beans overnight, then wash and boil until tender. Drain and set aside. *I don’t have a pressure cooker, so I have to cook the dried pinto beans the traditional way. You can also use tinned pinto beans, I often do.
Heat oil in a large pot and add onion, garlic, spices and dried chilli. Cook until onions are translucent. Then add the cooked pinto beans to the pot, along with 2 ½ pints of water and 1 ½ teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and allow to simmer for 45 minutes. Blend half of the beans and the chilli pepper until smooth and return to the pot. Taste for seasoning, garnish with coriander leaves and serve. Adapted from Deborah Madisons’s Vegetable Soups.