I found this Spanish flamenco dancer doll at an estate sale, at which there were tons of dolls from around the world.  I especially admired this doll’s attitude.  Looking at her makes me want to toss my head back and yell, “Ha ha ha” or something like that.

Naturally, the Spanish dancer inspired me to make a Spanish dish.  I recently discovered Alubia de Tolosa beans from Spain, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to use them.

They look like black beans, but these are no ordinary beans.  These beans cook up big and red and meaty.  I’ve learned that it is important to soak these particular beans, even if the recipe you are using them in does not call for them to be soaked.

Before soaking.

After soaking.

I decided to make a soup with my Alubia de Tolosa beans.  When my husband came home that night and asked what was for dinner, I told him “Spanish Bean Soup.”  He said, “I didn’t expect a kind of Spanish Bean Soup,” to which I replied, “Nobody expects a Spanish Bean Soup.”  I told him, “Its chief feature is beans . . . beans and surprise . . . surprise and beans . . . .  Its two features are beans and surprise . . . and simplicity . . . . Its three features are beans, surprise, and simplicity . . . and an almost fanatical devotion to fresh ingredients. . . .  Its four . . . no . . . .  Amongst its features . . . are such elements as beans, surprise, simplicity . . . . I’ll start again.”

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

This is an easy, hearty soup, perfect now that the temperature has dipped down into the 80s here in Houston.  Br-r-r-r-r-r!  And while you’re enjoying it, be sure to toss your head back at least once and shout, “Ha ha ha!”

  • 1 pound Alubia de Tolosa or black beans
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped smoked ham
  • 4 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup butter
  • Salt, to taste
  • Optional garnish -- sour cream, chopped cilantro, pickled jalapenos, chopped onion
  1. Wash and pick over beans. Place in a large stockpot and cover with two inches of water. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let soak, covered, for two hours. Drain beans.
  2. Return soaked beans to pot and add 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer covered until tender, approximately 1-1/4 hours. Add onion, bell pepper, tomato paste, wine, cumin, black pepper, ham, bay leaves, and butter. Season to taste with salt. Continue simmering until soup thickens and vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaves and discard.
  3. Remove about 2 cups beans and set aside. Coarsely puree remaining soup using a food processor or stick blender. Return pureed soup to pot and add beans back in. Ladle into bowls and garnish as desired. Serve hot.


 Spanish Bean Soup.  Ha ha ha!

 Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!







One thought on “SPANISH BEAN SOUP

  1. Wow! Either those beans are huge or you used Consuela’s hands as the model in the picture!*
    *throwing my head back and laughing, “ha ha ha!”

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