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SPANISH BEAN SOUP

by M. K. Rawlings
(Cross Creek, Florida)

This recipe if from Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings book "Cross Creek Cookery". She called it Mrs. Chance's Spanish Bean Soup. The following words are paraphrased from Marjorie:

"I associate soup with either poverty or formal elegance. The poor make a meal of it. The elegant dabble in it, beginning a long dinner of main courses with a cup or plate of it, aggravatingly small if the soup be good. One small serving of a ravishing soup is infuriating. It is like seeing the Pearly Gates swing shut in one’s face after one brief glimpse of Heaven.

As happy a gustatory experience as can come to mortal man, is to sit down in one of the Cuban restaurants in Tampa and eat all one can hold of Spanish bean soup…...with hot crusty chunks of Cuban bread that you eat “as long as you have strength to break and butter them…” Fortunately, Cubans are generous folk, and I have been able to bring home to the Creek backwoods the recipes for these hearty and delicious soups. Those of the Mayor’s wife are the best in Tampa."

1 pound Spanish beans
½ tsp soda
2 pound ham hock
4 large onions
4 buttons garlic
½ bell pepper
4 Spanish sausages
4 pig’s feet (fresh)
4 medium-sized potatoes
1 small head cabbage
½ tsp saffron (or about 10 cents worth)
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
2 bay leaves

Add soda to water and soak beans overnight. Wash beans well the next morning. Cover ham hock well with cold water, add beans and start cooking slowly. Cut up onions, garlic, bell pepper, and in about twenty minutes add to soup together with bay leaves and saffron. Cut sausages in pieces of four each and add to soup. Cut pig’s feet in half, lengthwise, and cook separately until tender; then add to soup and cook slowly. Cut up potatoes and add to soup, and when beans are about done, cut up cabbage as for slaw and add to soup. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Be sure to cook slowly always. More water may be needed at end, but soup is supposed to be very thick.

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