Living in London, there are many things I miss about home. These include (but are not limited to) driving on the right, having a single tap for hot and cold water, not getting into awkward conversations about different definitions of the word "pants"... There are many gripes I could list (and, occasionally, do), but I generally manage to resist the urge, remembering that I live in a city that's an hour on the plane from most of Europe, has free entry to museums that hold much of the greatest art ever created, and is the birth-place of many culinary delights such as fish & chips and spotted dick. However, the one thing I have never gotten over is the severe lack of Mexican food. We have fantastic Indian food, a great selection of all the varieties of Chinese, wonderful Argentinian, Bolivian, and Colombian restaurants, but no, and I mean NO, burritos. I have seriously considered buying some super carnitas burritos when visiting home in CA, deep-freezing them, and bringing them wrapped in ice on the plane. Unfortunately, I have a suspicion that this may go contrary to most customs regulations.
We did have one stroke of luck when Wahaca opened in the last year or so. It is a great restaurant serving very tasty and mostly authentic Mexican food. I have to say that the burritos are just not the same -- they don't come wrapped in foil, which automatically disqualifies them in my book -- but they do some mean quesadillas and an amazing pork pibil. My favorite dish, however, is the humble bowl of black beans topped with queso fresco.
I was inspired to recreate this one weekend. Despite my predilection for canned beans, I have been experimenting with cooking my own from dried. I therefore ended up with a large container of black beans last week. Wanting a quick meal, I gussied them up with some onions, garlic, cumin and chipotle. I added some tomatoes for flavor and some early spring greens for color. It wasn't Mexico, but it took me a little farther south than the English Channel.
Black bean soup
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 Tsp. cumin
A pinch of dried chipotle flakes
2 C. black beans
1 can tomatoes
1-2 C. vegetable broth
Sweat the onion and garlic until soft. Add cumin and chipotle flakes and stir around to release their aromas. Add the can of tomatoes, black beans and vegetable broth and bring to a boil.
Remove half of the soup and blend the remainder until smooth, either in a blender (having cooled off) or with an immersion blender. Return the chunky half to the pot, reheat if necessary.
Garnish with queso fresco (or, in my case, Wensleydale) and cilantro. Que rico!