By Kelly McKinnon, KF9 Leon, Nicaragua
The question is posed casually, but as all heads in the room turn to await my response, I sense that this is not a simple question. Ummm, I stammer. Rapidly wracking my brain for cultural cues or anecdotes I’ve heard on the importance of soup in Nicaragua. Nothing, I’ve got nothing. So I stall a bit more, Soup? You are asking me if I like soup?
I am sitting at the kitchen table with a coworker and her family. Her grandmother poses the question, her aunt eyes me, and my coworker and her three sisters stop chattering to await my response. There wasn’t a kind of soup specified, so soup in general is up for my estimation. My answer to this one question will serve as a kind of review. I am being quizzed on how “Nica” I’ve become, I will also be invited to try soup, likely homemade, likely an expense for the household and I don’t want to be an imposition.
But really, who doesn’t like soup?! So I plunge ahead, Yes! I really like soup! I like chicken soup, and soup with noodles and oooh I looooove black bean soup.
Black bean soup! She likes black bean soup! My coworkers grandmother claps her hands together. Increasingly confident I add, yes I like it with lime juice and salsa Inglesa (Worchester Sauce), and cheese. Do you add egg? No, no egg. My coworker nods her confirmation; I had not added egg when we went to the soup restaurant for lunch. This was telling: she likes soup, but she does not add egg. The table goes back to chattering.
Kelly McKinnon is the Kiva Fellow in Leon, Nicaragua, where soup is eaten to keep one cool. Wherever you may be, she hopes that soup is keeping you cool, or warm. Please enjoy this recipe for Nicaraguan Sopa de Frijole.
Soak red beans overnight in enough water to cover the amount you want to cook
Strain and mash the beans to desired consistency (Typical soups are smooth)
Add beans to 8 cups of water and bring to a simmer
Chopped onions, red peppers are often added
Salt and Pepper to taste
Add eggs and poach in soup, if you do so, you are more Nicaraguan than I
Garnish with fresh grated cheese, lime juice, hot sauce and Worchester Sauce
Enjoy with corn tortilla