The recipe is Puerto Rican black bean soup. I call it the ‘yoga version.’ I’m always on the lookout for good bean recipes. Beans are an integral part of Puerto Rican cuisine. But this one has an unusual provenance. My wife, Holly, is a proponent of yoga; and her library includes the Yoga Natural Foods Cookbook by Richard Hittleman. Now, this book is an oldie. It was first published in 1970 when, during the age of Aquarius, natural food and diet and all those hippy-dippy concepts began to gain currency in our society. So, I was intrigued as to what a yoga cookbook would do with Puerto Rican black bean soup
The recipe calls for garlic, cumin and oregano to be crushed in a mortar. The assumption is that when he mentioned cumin and oregano, the author meant whole cumin seeds and fresh oregano. For the sake of convenience, I tried the recipe with ground cumin and oregano, the type that you can get in any store, and the recipe was just as delicious. So, your choice as to use fresh herbs or dried. Also, the recipe calls for vegetable salt. I discovered that vegetable salt is hard to find in my area. Regular salt is just as good with this dish.
In my culture, beans and rice go like love and marriage. In this case we paired the beans with yellow rice, but plain boiled rice is also good.
PUERTO RICAN BLACK BEAN SOUP
1 pound black beans
4 cloves garlic
½ tablespoon vegetable salt (can substitute regular table salt—we like sea salt)
1½ teaspoon cumin
1½ teaspoons oregano
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions (chopped)
2 green peppers (chopped and seeded)
Soak beans in water to cover, overnight. Add water to make two quarts and cook until tender. Put garlic, salt and herbs in a mortar and crush. Sauté vegetables in oil until transparent. Add garlic mixture and a tablespoon or two of water and simmer a few minutes. Add this mixture to beans and simmer 30 minutes.
Note: The book does not tell how many servings the recipe yields. But I would surmise it’d be from 6 to 8 servings.