Friday, September 24, 2010

Black bean soup for Daddy

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When my kids were younger, my parents came to visit us in California several times a year. Most of the time they came together. In 2003, however, my dad made a solo trip to see us. The kids were really little - four and one - and my dad missed them terribly in the months between visits. He was an extremely active grandpa. When Grandpa Paul was around, my kids were laughing from the minute they got up until they fell asleep listening to one of his stories at bedtime.

During the week Daddy was visiting we took him to Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark, where we trekked through the strawberry fields and picked pint after pint. He carried little Weston on his shoulders most of that day. I'd never seen him happier.

Today is the second anniversary of my dad's death. I'm not great with dates - I forgot my own first wedding anniversary - and it's not like a number on the calendar is going to make me think of Daddy any more. I think about him all the time, every day, nearly every hour. But now that the day is coming to a close, I'm realizing that I do want to mark it in some way.

And so I'll share with you one of my dad's favorite recipes: my black bean soup. Daddy loved beans, any beans, all beans. My mom didn't make them at home because she doesn't particularly like them and she didn't particularly enjoy the effect they had on my father ("Beans, beans, good for your heart - the more you eat, the more you..." he'd chant with a grin). So when he came to visit, and sometimes when I went to their house in New York, I'd make black bean soup. In the last year of his life, when he was ill and eating became more chore than pleasure, I made bean soup, lentil soup, chili - all the things he loved - and packed them into small containers, with which I filled their freezer. Two years later, my mom still has a few servings of this soup left.

Bon appetit, Daddy. I miss you.

Black bean soup for Daddy

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 pound uncooked chorizo or andouille sausage, casings removed
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 pound dried black beans, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Brown the sausage meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon into small pieces as it cooks. Add the onion, celery, carrots, and bell peppers, and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, sprinkle with salt, and saute one minute more. Add the beans, tomatoes, chicken stock, water, and spices to the pot. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, cover the pot, and simmer gently about 2 hours, until the beans are soft and the flavors have blended. Puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender in bursts, leaving it a little chunky. Serve hot garnished with shredded cheese, sour cream, diced avocado, crushed tortilla chips, or croutons.


Barbara @ Modern Comfort Food said...

What a beautiful story and worthy recipe tribute to your father, Erika. Do we all make these food associations? I think we must. There are certain dishes that always bring my own father, long gone, so vividly to my mind.

Monet said...

What a lovely tribute to your father. I think that food not only holds flavor...but also deep memories. This soup looks hearty and filling. Thank you for sharing this with us, I hope your weekend is full of good memories and love.

Jean at The Delightful Repast said...

Erika, this is such a lovely post. I'm happy to find another "grown woman" who calls her father "Daddy" like me! My father died a few years ago and I miss him every day. Glad I didn't read this post before meeting you yesterday; we would probably have both been in tears.

Erika Kerekes said...

@Barbara and Monet - thank you. The truth is, I can't eat any bean soup without thinking of my dad and occasionally dissolving. Two years is a long time and yet not long at all.

@Jean - yes, we would have, because I'm a fountain. But I come by it honestly: My dad also cried at the drop of a hat. He was the most emotionally available man I've ever met. My older son, too.

BonnieBanters said...

Nice tribute to your dad! The fact that you miss him actually shows how fortunate you were to have a dad you loved!

Erika Kerekes said...

Bonnie - fortunate indeed. I adored him. Today was my third Father's Day without him. I love celebrating my husband, but my heart still aches for my dad.

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