Erica's Cocina

Lets have some fun making some AWESOME and authentic Mexican Food

Lentil Soup (Sopa de Lentejas) November 19, 2010

It’s a chilly day here in Southern California, so I thought, what better thing to warm me up than a nice bowl of Sopa de Lentejas, or in English, Lentil Soup. There are probably a million different variations to this recipe. But I particulary love this one. Bacon and lentils go sooo well together, they should be married! Growing up, during the winter months we ate tons of soups. I love soups, they have tons of flavors, textures, and they satisfy the most hungry tummies. They are also so easy to play with and  make them your own ;O)

Lately, when I am recipe testing I also read up on the history of whatever dish I am making, if there is one. According to Wikipedia, Lentil Soup was once considered a food for the poor. Hmmm, little did they know that what they were eating was not only economical but is packed with vitamins and minerals. So go ahead, save some money and enjoy a fulfilling bowl of this soup ;O)

 

Lentil Soup (Sopa de Lentejas)

Preparation Time: 10 minutes     Cook Time: 40-50 minutes     Serves: 4-6

 

Ingredients:


2 C. Dry Lentils

8 Slices of Center Cut Bacon

1/2 Onion

1 Garlic Minced

1 Jalapeno

2 Roma Tomatoes or 1 Large Tomato

2 Qt. Veggie or Beef Broth

1/2 Tsp. Cumin Ground

3 Cilantro Sprigs

 

Directions:

First off, you want to sort the lentils. Make sure to remove all debris that might have been left behind during packaging. Next, rinse the lentils under cold water until the water runs clear. Set aside.

Now for the chopping….

Chop the tomato into small dices.

 

Chop the onion into small dices.

 

Cut the bacon into small pieces.

 

Now lets get to cooking :O)

Add bacon to medium heated pot and cook until crisp. Takes about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn. Once nice and crispy, remove and set aside in towels so they can drain. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings. This will give your soup TONS of flavor!

 

To bacon dripping add onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Sauté until onion transparent, 3-5 minutes. To the jalapeño, you want to do two little slits on it. Just enough to break the skin, but not slice through it. This will release the flavor without making it too spicy.

 

Add tomato and sauté until skin starts to loosen up, 3-5 minutes.

 

Add the reserved bacon and lentils. Stir until all ingredients are mixed together.

 

Add broth and cumin. Season to taste with salt if needed. Remember the broth already has salt in it so taste before adding some. I find many times, I don’t need to add salt. Bring to a rolling boil and reduce heat to low. Add cilantro, cover, and cook for 40-50 minutes or until lentils are tender. You will notice the fat from the bacon rise to the top during cooking. I usually remove this with a spoon half way though cooking and at the end. You want to have the bacon flavor but not all the grease ;O)

 

You are now ready to enjoy this delicious bowl of Lentil soup…

Buen Provecho!!!

 

 

Note: As mentioned earlier, there are tons of variations to this soup. You can easily make this a vegetarian dish by omitting the bacon, use olive oil to sauté the ingredients, and use veggie broth. Great add in are carrots, potatoes, celery. Go ahead and play with it. See what you come up with. One word of advise is when adding ingredients, make sure to chop them small. You don’t want them so big that they over power the lentils. Lets not forget, the lentils are the star of this dish ;O)
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Frijoles de la Hoya (Beans in a pot) September 28, 2010

Frijoles de la hoya literally means, beans in a pot. You will find these beans in almost every Hispanic home. They are the foundation to an array of scrumptious dishes and they can also be enjoyed right out of the pot. I do this often ;O) Nothing better than a bowl of fresh frijoles de la hoya. When I was growing up, I could eat beans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without any complaints. Once you have these freshly made beans, you’ll never go back to those can beans again, trust me. Buen Provecho!

Ingredients:

16oz or 2cups Dry Pinto Beans

8cups Cold Water

1 Garlic Clove

Salt

Directions:

Sort beans by removing any debris and cracked beans. Rinse under cold water to remove any dirt.

In a pot, add beans, water, and garlic.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cover. Let simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until tender.

Add salt to personal taste and let simmer for an additional 10 minutes so the beans may absorb the flavor. Make sure not to add salt before the beans are tender. Adding the salt before will not let the beans become tender. You will end up with tough skin. No bueno ;O) Remove from heat. Refrigerate unused portion.

Now that you know how to make your own awesome Frijoles de la Hoya, you can go on and make tostadas, sopes, refried beans, etc, etc.  The possibilities are endless!

BUEN PROVECHO!

 

Caldo de Camarón (Shrimp Soup) April 9, 2010

I love Caldo de Camarón, or shrimp soup in English ;0) This is one of those dishes that my family and I usually make during the Lent season and in the winter time. It is made with tons of veggies so not only is it delicious but it is also good for you. Another plus is that it doesn’t take too much time to make so you can enjoy anytime of the year.

Cooking Time: 30-35 minutes     Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

5 C. Water

3 Carrots

¼ C. Onion

1 Chayote

5 Celery Sticks

2 Potatoes

1 Calabacita (Italian Squash)

1 Tomato

1-8oz Can of El Pato Sauce (or other spicy sauce)

1-16oz Can of Garbanzo Beans

1/3 C. Chopped Cilantro

1½ lbs. Large Shrimp

Directions:

Chop carrots, onion, chayote, celery, calabacitas, tomato, and potatoes into small dices. Set aside. Chop cilantro and set aside. Open can of garbanzo beans. Drain, remove skin, and rinse. Set aside.

In a pot, add water and salt to personal taste. Let boil. Add carrots, onion, chayote, and celery. Bring to boil. Let boil for 10 minutes.

Add potatoes, calabacitas, tomato, garbanzo beans, El Pato sauce, and cilantro. Taste. Add more salt if needed. Bring to boil. Boil for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are cooked. Add shrimp and taste again. Add more salt if needed. Bring to broil. Boil for 3 minutes and remove from heat.

Serve while hot with slices of lime on the side.

Buen Provecho!!

Note: If you do not want the soup to be spicy, just add a can of tomato sauce instead. Also, if chayote cannot be found in your local market then you can just use the calabacitas and vice versa. But use 2 instead of 1.

 

 
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