Mama's Fresh

When I left for college, my mother compiled a book of "Mama's Fresh Recipes" -- a collection of my favorite meals and her most popular dishes. On the first page, and rightfully so, is her recipe for black bean soup.

I was nervous about recreating a meal that I esteem so highly, and that I have eaten a perfected version of for my entire life. But I was surprised, the recipe was quick and easy (even though we had to chop where my mother defers to the food processor), and it even tasted as amazing. We added our own touch with cilantro garnish and some chopped onion. Perf.

So here is mommy's recipe for the best black bean soup in the world, may you use it well:

4 carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 16-oz. cans black beans
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp ground corriander
4 cups beef broth
1/2 cup long grain rice

In a pot, cook the carrots, onions and garlic in the oil over moderate heat until softened. Stir in cumin, cayenne and corriander and cook for one minute. Add broth, rice and beans (with their liquid) and simmer for 15 minutes. Puree (we used a blender) half of the mixture and return it to the pot. Stir in sherry, add salt and pepper to taste.

To accompany the soup, we made my famous guacamole. And by famous, I mean it's one of the only things I make. And by "my", I mean belonging my former Guatamalean babysitter. I'll proudly claim it as my own though -- it's the best guacamole recipe I've tasted so far.

3 avocados
1/2 onion, chopped
2 lemons
2 tbsp oregano

Peel and chop avocados, mash them together with a fork. Add juice of two lemons, and mix. Add onions and oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. I like a lot of salt.