Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spicy Pinto Bean Soup

Pintos are my favorite bean, and I prefer to start with dried beans whenever I can.  My mother would often make a pot of pintos on cold and rainy days, and putting a kettle on in my own home never fails to conjure up pleasant memories from my childhood.  But as an adult, I've come to enjoy a spicier rendition than Mom cooked up, so I was especially drawn to the "Spicy Pinto Bean Soup" (page 161).  I started with a pound of dried pintos, soaked them for about 8 hours before cooking, and planned to use what I needed for the recipe (a total of 4 ½ cups), saving the rest for something else later on.  But as it turned out, I ended up using all of the beans, adjusting the recipe as necessary to incorporate what little extra was left over.  And, I'm not sorry!  This soup shot immediately to the top of my list of "Favorite Ways to Prepare Pinto Beans". 

Because you blend part of the cooked pintos with crushed tomatoes, the base of the soup is very creamy, like adding refried beans to a pot of whole beans.  The spiciness comes from canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, and although the recipe called for one teaspoon, I doubled this, as we like our food spicy.  I would test this out first if you aren't familiar with the type of heat provided by chipotles.  They are hot, with a hint of smokiness, but again, they are HOT!  

The recipe calls for four cups of broth or water; I used the left over cooking liquid from the beans for this, adding depth of color and extra flavor to the soup. And, the only change I made to make this recipe McDougall friendly was to "dry fry" the onion instead of sautéing in oil.

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