Guatemala flies under the radar when it comes to notable cuisines, but it shouldn’t. Today we feature a delicious black bean soup which shows off the best of Guatemala. This delicious black bean soup goes for a trip into the blender to deliver a creamy and incredibly healthy soup, just perfect for those cold, winter months.
We also peek at the Guatemalan diet. Many of you probably already eat many of the foods common to Guatemala without even realizing it. And, in a surprise, we discuss the strong connection between the basic foods of the thriving Mayan culture centered around what is now known as Guatemala and the Native American culture in North America, in pre-Columbian times.
Read on to find out more.
Corn Squash and Beans – The Three Sisters
In another of those amazing “co-incidences”, corn, squash and beans are the foundation around which the Mayan diet was centered. And guess what? They were the same 3 foods known as “The three sisters” upon which formed the cornerstone of the Native American diet, prior to the arrival of European/British settlement on the East Coast of what is now the United States.
Now just think about this for a moment. Guatemala’s climate is tropical with coastal lowlands, as well as mountainous tracts of land in the highlands. They are totally different conditions to those experienced in North America. And yet the basic diet was the same. Both cultures raised crops.
Of course, the old Mayan culture was extremely powerful. Transportation and communication were well organized, primarily to maintain control over the populace. Given the totally different climates between North America and Central America, there is little doubt there was contact between these cultures and “The three sisters” basically prove it.
Most of Central America was controlled by the Mayans. Indeed, when the Spanish finally conquered the Mayans, they were smart enough to realize that Antigua was the epicenter of the Mayan culture and installed it as the capital of “Central America”, which pre-dated all the current countries making up that region.
That’s the end of the history lesson, but the point is that the Mayans were brilliant in their ability to raise crops of corn, squash and beans in a difficult climate and a tough terrain. The Mayan culture may now be gone but we owe them a great debt of gratitude for what they have given the world in terms of food.
Today in Guatemala “The three sisters” are still prevalent. Think black beans, refried beans, corn-based tortillas (so much tastier than wheat and gluten-free I might add), numerous varieties of corn and of course all the different varieties of squash. These cornerstone ingredients are now supplemented with eggs, tomatoes, chicken, onions, peppers, limes and various herbs such as cilantro.
So, as you would expect, creme of black bean soup is very common in Guatemala, especially given how inexpensive and healthy these ingredients are. Read on for the recipe for this delicious black bean soup.
This Delicious Black Bean Soup is the Best of Guatemala
Note that I have elected to blend the cooked soup. This delivers a smooth and rather creamy soup. However, it is not mandatory to blend the soup. It’s just as good in its pre-blended state but in Guatemala it is usually served in restaurants as creme of black bean soup.
The garnishes give a big lift to the soup, especially the cilantro (coriander) and the lime. They are key to this dish. This soup also goes well with blue corn tortillas.
I like to use raw black beans to soak overnight and pre-cook before you attempt to make the soup. Yes, it means being organized, but honestly it takes 30 seconds of effort to soak raw black beans and another 30 seconds to put the soaked beans on to cook. And you will get 5 times as much product versus buying in a can. However, canned beans also work if that is your preference.
I have also linked to another very good black bean soup recipe, we created last year. This one un-blended, for a different option and texture.