There are as many renditions of this soup as there are Cuban cooks. This is my take. The sofrito can be prepared up to three days ahead of time. Once this soup is made, it can be refrigerated for a couple of days—it freezes beautifully. Serve this soup with accoutrements such as chopped onion, and steamed, white rice.
1 lb. black beans, soaked overnight
81/2cups cold water
2 bay leaves
1/4cup vegetable oil
1 large onion, minced
11/2large red bell peppers, chopped finely
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2teaspoon, dried oregano
1/2teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4cup dry sherry
2tablespoons red wine vinegar
1tablespoon brown sugar
Drain beans; discard soaking water. In a large Dutch oven, place the beans and the water; add the bay leaves. Bring the beans to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat, cover and simmer beans for 1 hour or until they are tender, but not mushy—check them as you go--. In the meantime, heat the oil in a medium sauté pan set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, bell pepper and garlic; sauté and cook while stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened—about 5 minutes. Add the salt, oregano and black pepper to the sofrito mixture; set aside. When the beans are tender, add the sofrito mixture to the beans and cook for 20 minutes. Add the dry sherry, red wine vinegar and brown sugar; simmer soup for 10 minutes. Taste, adjust salt and pepper and serve hot. This recipe serves 6-8.
©Copyright Sandra A. Gutierrez 2007. All Rights Reserved.
Arroz Amarillo con Sofrito y Aceite de Annatto (Achiote)
1/4 annatto oil (recipe follows)
1 cup finely chopped bell pepper (any color)
1/2 cup finely minced yellow onion
2 cups uncooked white rice
3 garlic cloves, minced finely
1 teaspoon annatto powder (optional)
3 3/4 cups chicken stock
1 cup Manzanilla olives
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat the Annatto oil over medium-high heat in a large saute-pan with high sides (arrocera). Add the bell pepper and onion; saute for 4-5 minutes, or until softened, making sure to stir often. Add the rice and saute for 1-2 minutes, making sure to coat with the oil;add the garlic and annatto powder (if using), sauteing for 20 seconds. Add the chicken stock, olives, salt and pepper, stirring the mixture well. Bring liquid to a boil; cover, lower the heat and simmer, undisturbed for 20 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork, and stir to combine ingredients well. This recipe serves 6-8.
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup annatto (achiote) seeds
In a medium saucepot, place the olive oil and the annatto seeds. Bring oil to a slow simmer and cook for 5 minutes (it is important to watch the oil and not allow it to come to a boil or the annatto seeds will burn and you will have to start all over again). Turn the heat off and let the oil steep for 30 minutes, at room temperature. Strain oil through a sieve, lined with a cheesecloth, paper towels or coffee filter. Place oil in a sterilized jar. Kept this way, the oil will last for up to 2 weeeks. Use this oil to flavor rice, sauces, roasts, vegetables and other Latin dishes. This makes about 1 1/2 cups.
Copyright, Sandra A. Gutierrez, 2007; All Rights Reserved.