Recipe of the Month: Sopa de Frijoles

by Simone Riddle

If there’s one thing Guatemalans can do better than anyone, it’s beans. Although Mexicans have many winning dishes, their beans, which are dark red in color are definitely inferior to Guatemalan frijoles negros. Cheap to buy, simple to cook and high in protein, black beans should be a staple ingredient for all extranjeros living in Xela.

This is an adapted version of the traditional ‘sopa de frijol’ taught to me by a companera in AMA (Asociacion de Mujeres del Altiplano) a women’s association who offer traditional Mayan cooking classes to visitors in Xela. The original soup normally contains bacon but I think that gives it quite an overpowering taste. So for all you non-pork eaters, here’s the vegetarian alternative with broccoli florets to give the soup a bit more substance. This recipe uses tinned beans for those that neither have the utensils nor the time to cook them from scratch, making it an excellent mid-week dinner for when you’re short on time.

Ingredients (serves 2 people):

  • One lata de frijoles enteros (canned whole black beans)
  • One tbs of oil
  • One small onion, finally chopped
  • One garlic clove, crushed or finally chopped
  • 2 chiltepe chilis (the tiny green chilies found at the market) or half a jalapeno chili, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon of cumin powder (comino en polvo)
  • 250ml of stock – veggie or chicken
  • Four broccoli florets chopped into smaller almost bite-sized pieces
  • One tablespoon of cleaned and chopped cilantro
  • One ripe avocado, one lime, tortillas and some queso fresco or crema to serve.


1.Heat the oil in a medium sized pan over a low heat

2. Add 2/3 of the chopped onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until soft.  Add the garlic and chili and cooked for another two minutes stirring occasionally then add the cumin and fry for about another minute so the flavors infuse

3. Add the can of beans with the liquid it comes in as well as the stock, stir, turn up the heat to bring to the boil. Once it’s boiling turn the heat down, cover and cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally

4.Take off the heat, leave to cool for a few minutes then blend the mixture

5. Put the pan of blended soup back on the heat, add the broccoli florets with the remaining onion and gently simmer until the broccoli is cooked

6. Season with salt and pepper to taste

7. Ladle the soup into two bowls, if desired add a dollop of cream or crumbled queso fresco. Finish with a sprinkle of the chopped cilantro and a good squeeze of lime

8. Serve the avocado quartered with more pieces of lime and plenty of hot tortillas on a separate plate for people to take as they wish.

My food blog online can be found at: http://recetasguatemaltecasymas. blogspot. com/


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