A Cuban black bean soup, made in Annapolis, is wanted in Bethel Park, Pa.
George V. B. Hall of Bethel Park writes that he is seeking a recipe that he and his wife enjoyed while visiting Annapolis. "We discovered the Middleton Tavern, and as part of our lunch we would have Cuban black bean soup. We've had many black bean soup recipes, but none have provided the flavor of that soup."
Louise Essay Zdilla, no address given, responded, "I got this recipe when I ate at La Zaragozana restaurant many years ago. I don't know if the restaurant is still in San Juan, but the food was wonderful. They even sent me dried black beans when I could not find them here at that time. I hope Mr. Hall enjoys this authentic recipe."
Ruth E. Bly of Winchester, Va., writes that she wants a recipe for a sandwich spread made from green tomatoes that her 84-year-old mother once made but cannot remember the ingredients. "She made it in the fall before the frost got the last tomatoes. It had a light greenish color and did not have green peppers in it, possibly mayonnaise and maybe cucumbers. From a child I enjoyed this green tomato spread, and I'm now 62 and want to make it."
Otis Drake of St. Augustine, Fla., writes, "Back in 1929 when I was 10, I used to stand on a box and reach through my neighbor's pantry window and remove her wonderful doughnuts. I have found no match for them. They tasted more like bread and were not sweet and were cooked in lard, if that makes any difference. They were definitely not a cake doughnut. Thanks a lot."
If you are looking for a recipe or can answer a request for a hard-to-find recipe, write to Ellen Hawks, Recipe Finder, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. If you send more than one recipe, please put each on a separate sheet of paper with your name, address and daytime phone number. Important: Please list the ingredients in order of use, and note the number of servings each recipe makes. Please type or print contributions. Letters may be edited for clarity.
Cuban Black Bean Soup
1 pound dried black beans picked over for stones and debris
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons salt
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tablespoon cumin powder
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1 ounce white vinegar
5 ounces olive oil
1/2 pound yellow onions (1 large), chopped fine
1/2 pound green bell pepper (2 medium), chopped fine
Soak beans overnight. Drain and add 2 quarts water and salt. Boil beans until soft, about two hours. Using a mortar and pestle, crush garlic, cumin, oregano and vinegar until it forms a paste. In a large stockpot, heat oil and add onions and peppers and fry over medium heat until the onions begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic paste and cook 5 minutes more. If the beans are very soupy, drain some of the water before adding the beans to the onion mixture and cook for another 30 minutes. Serve with a spoonful of cooked rice and chopped raw onion marinated in olive oil and white vinegar.
Tester Laura Reiley's comments: "Bay leaves are also a classic flavoring for Cuban black bean soup. I would add two bay leaves to the boiling beans. The mixture of onions and peppers is a traditional sofrito, a thick flavoring paste that lends the beans interest. Either dried black beans or small red beans called frijoles colorados cortos are the traditional soup beans. While vegetarian, this is a hearty one-pot dinner, made outstanding if it is served with fried plantains or even sliced bananas as an accompaniment."