Hondurans are very fond of beans and legumes in general, but the little black beans are their favorite. A local proverb even says that a meal is never complete without frijoles.
As an inexpensive, simple to produce, delicious and extremely nourishing legume, the bean has established itself in the traditional gastronomy of the country and more widely throughout Latin America. Dry beans are a particularly healthy source of vegetable protein, fiber, iron and carbohydrates.
These frijoles are prepared in different ways in Honduras. They are usually prepared with chicharron (pork rind), small pork ribs but also boneless oxtail. Fruits and vegetables are often used to garnish the sopa de frijoles (bean soup), but also guineitos (green bananas or plantains), cassava or red and green bell peppers.
The meat is sometimes replaced by hard boiled eggs and to complete the meal, the soup is usually garnished with fresh avocado slices, cilantro, pickled red onions, tortilla, white rice or a combination of these.
The taste, size and texture of the small black beans used for the sopa de frijoles differs from other more well known varieties in Europe. They are also less starchy, which results in a less dense and more digestible soup.
Black beans are also very popular in the United States, especially with the African-American communities. The black bean soup is mentioned in many gospel and blues songs, as it was the staple food for most of the slaves of the southern plantations.
In Europe, however, the black bean has not met the same success as the white, red, brown, big and small varieties, which have been used for centuries.
The origins of sopa de frijoles of Honduras date from the pre-Columbian cuisine where beans were already widely used. With the arrival of the conquistadors, this little black bean and the idea of preparing it in the form of soups and stew spread in Spain and Europe where the recipe was adapted from country to country and was still meeting a great success. The south of France also has a recipe for beans and pork rinds, known as cassoulet. The Jewish communities of Spain and Portugal loved the beans so much that they were even called judías frijoles. They contributed greatly to its spread in Christian Europe but also in the Muslim world where the beans also became a great success.
The pre-Hispanic culture of Mesoamerica is still alive in Honduras, where cooking like your ancestors is much more appreciated than opening up to global cuisine, and this is how the traditions and flavors of the past are preserved.
It is easy to guess how the people who populated these regions centuries ago could dine, as much of the preparation techniques have remained faithful to the initial methods. Nevertheless, the Spanish influence had its importance, especially on the use of pork with beans. Indeed, at the time, the locals consumed meat on the one hand and beans on the other as a complete dish while in Europe, pork and legumes, which the Romans were fond of, were often associated.
Yet it is the combination of these two products that seduces us today in the sopa de frijoles. Well, pork and beans go particularly well together. We really liked this comforting and nourishing soup but nevertheless quite fresh with the toppings and sides. It is a complete meal that will please the whole family. The sopa frijoles can easily be reheated and can thus be prepared the day before.
- 1 lb frijoles (black beans), soaked for 5 hours
- 4 small pork ribs
- 3 plantains , peeled and cut in 3
- 1 lb cassava , peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 white onion , sliced
- 1 small red bell pepper (or green), diced
- 6 cloves garlic , chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro , chopped
- 1 tablespoon cumin
In a large pot, heat the olive oil.
Fry the onion for 1 minute over medium heat, stirring several times.
Add the garlic and bell pepper, mix well and cook for 1 minute over low heat.
Pour the beans into the pot.
Cover with boiling water about 2 inches above the beans.
Add the cilantro.
Mix well and cook covered over medium heat for 1 hour, stirring very gently from time to time.
Place the pork chops in a pan and sear over medium-high heat until browned on both sides. Put them in the pot of beans.
Add 1 cup boiling water and continue cooking for 20 minutes.
Peel and cut the cassava and plantain into pieces and add them to the pot.
Add the cumin, salt and pepper.
Mix well, cover the pot and cook again until the cassava begins to crack (about 30 minutes).
Serve frijole sopa with white rice, grated fresh cheese, avocado and tortillas.