Oh joy! Right now I’m as happy as a dog with two tails: My favorite time of the year is here.
Despite what you may think, it isn’t the twinkly lights, the carols or even the food that make me so happy, it’s the weather. For the last few days it’s been so cool at night that I had to find a light quilt to sleep comfortably. You know what that means: It’s soup time chez Aunt Clara.
Let’s start all the soup-making with a new favorite: Fresh Shell Beans and Pork Sausage Spicy Stew
If all you are used to is canned beans, then dry beans is a vast improvement, but fresh shell beans are a category in itself. While I prefer using dry beans for making Dominican-style beans (habichuelas guisadas), for this soup fresh shell beans is it. They have a creaminess and flavor that is perfect in this dish.
I also found that shelling beans is quite the zen experience. Sitting with my daughter while we shelled them, chatting about how I used to do that with my mom and grandma, is a great way of bonding with her.
Cuddling up with her and listening to her endless stories while soup is slowly simmering in the kitchen is the second best part of it.
Now, I know my fellow Dominicans, I know you’ll be tempted to serve this with rice on the side.
Heed my words, my people: There’s no need for that! This hearty soup has plenty to say without needing rice as a sidekick, strange as that may sound to us.
- 2 lb [0.9 kg] of shelled fresh shell pinto or cranberry beans
- 2 lb [0.9 kg] of raw <em>longaniza</em> (pork sausage)
- 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil (peanut, soy or canola)
- 1 large red onion , chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic , crushed
- 1 lb [0.45 kg] of plum tomatoes , peeled seeded and chopped
- 2 red cubanelle peppers , chopped
- 1 habanero pepper , seeded and chopped
- 2 teaspoons of salt , or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoons of pepper , or to taste
- A bunch of cilantro , chopped
- 1 avocado , chilled
Boil the beans in 2 qt [2 lt] of water over high heat for 15 minutes (counting from when it breaks a boils). Remove the beans from the heat and get rid of the water. This will help eliminate or reduce the "gas problem" when eating beans.
Boil again in 1 1/2 qt [1 1/2 lt] of water over medium-low heat until the beans are tender, but the skin is not broken (25-35 minutes). Add water as it becomes necessary to maintain the same level of liquid.
Separate beans and the liquid in which they boiled. Set aside both.
Peel the longaniza, breaking down any lumps. Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add the longaniza and brown.
Add the onion and cook and stir until the onion turns translucent. Add the strained beans and the garlic. Cook and stir until it's all heated through.
Mix in tomatoes, cubanelle pepper and the liquid in which the beans boiled in a 4 qt [4 lt] pot.
Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, adding water as it becomes necessary to maintain the same level of liquid.
Add the cilantro and mix. Remove from the heat.
Chop the avocado and use to garnish the soup when it's time to serve.