Some of my most vivid childhood memories are usually triggered by smells. It doesn’t make me special or unique in fact, scent is the sense most strongly tied to memory. It is also quite normal or common for these smells to trigger emotions in us. Whether the emotions are of happy or not so happy memories to just memories of experiencing something for the first time. The other day while I was boiling pinto beans, something that I do often, I suddenly had one of the most vivid childhood memories. I was immediately transported back to my Mother’s kitchen in Mexico in the mid 80s and sitting around the table with my sisters waiting for our lunch. My Mother’s sopa de frijoles con tortillas ( bean and tortilla soup) , was a lunch she often made for us, and my sisters and I all loved this soup. I could not only remember the taste of the sopa but the way it looked in our white bowls with the slices of tortillas floating around in the soup. We were all sitting around that ugly green Formica table (that was so popular back then) , I could even see the way the sun light would shine in from the patio into the open kitchen. Wow, I haven’t had such a strong memory like that in a while. It brought back such beautiful memories of my childhood that the emotions it evoked in me stayed with me for a few days.
Coming back to the present, I craved my Mother’s sopa so much that I right away changed my dinner plans so I could include the sopa that night. The only problem was that I never saw how she made it so I didn’t have a recipe. Immediately I logged into Facebook and sent a message to my sisters to please give me the recipe or contact Mom for me. Unfortunately being that we are on opposite sides of the world, the recipe didn’t come until quite late that night and after my dinner time. So I ended up just experimenting myself. First is the recipe for the way I made it following that I will share my Mother’s actual recipe.
( 1 large serving, but can be adjusted to larger portions)
1. Whether you are using whole home cooked or whole canned pinto beans, reserve the liquid for the soup base.
2. In a large pot add about 1 tsp. of corn or sunflower oil and add the cumin and garlic, fry for about 1-2 minutes. Next ladle in 2 cup of the boiled beans mixed with liquid. If you are using the canned beans pour in the entire can contents. Add enough liquid from the boiled/cooked beans to cover the beans. If using canned beans you may need to add some water to get the soup consistency.
3. Cook for 10 minutes ( or as long as you want), taste for salt and add a pinch of black pepper. When you are ready to serve, warm up the corn tortillas then cut into triangles or just tear into pieces. Ladle the soup into bowls and add as much tortilla pieces as you like, then mix into the soup.
The soup was delicious! Even though it was very good it still didn’t taste just like my Mother’s sopa but it did give me some comfort and satisfied the craving. Now for my Mother’s recipe, 1. Boil/cook the beans and right before serving tear up the warm tortillas. Ladle the beans into the bowls and add the torn up corn tortillas. Serve! That’s it, no other spices just the beans and tortillas. I couldn’t believe that was all the went into something that tasted so magnificent.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and perhaps if you make it for your children they will enjoy it as much as my sisters and I did.
Now tell me what food triggers the most vivid or fond memory for you ??