A light, immune-supporting, vegetarian soup, perfect for any time of year using white tepary beans and calcium rich buds from the cholla cactus (yôe). Cholla cactus grows all over the Southwest, including the base of Oku Pin (now called Sandia Mountains) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I imagine my Tewa ancestors gathered and prepared them for nourishment. The addition of fennel and verdolagas make this an even more health-giving soup, full of vitamins C and A. For a vegan version of this recipe, simply omit the parmesan cheese.
Please Note: This recipe takes a little planning as you need to cook the tepary beans and the cholla buds beforehand. See METHOD below. Also, if you cannot find verdolagas at your local grocer or farmer’s market, you can simply substitute them with baby spinach.
1 teaspoon, olive oil
1 fennel bulb with fronds, bulbs sliced, save fronds for garnish
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried white *tepary beans
1 head of garlic, roasted**, cloves removed and mashed
1/4 cup dried *cholla buds
1 small bunch of verdolagas (purslane), leaves only
juice of one lemon
1 quart vegetable stock
grated parmesan for serving
This step is best to do early in the day, or even better, the day before. Also, whenever I cook any type of beans or cholla buds, I prepare a little extra so I can freeze them for various recipes or to toss in salads later.
Cook your tepary beans by soaking them overnight in plenty of water. The next day, drain the water (you can water your plants with this), place soaked beans in a small saucepan covering them with fresh water. Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer until beans are soft (about 1 1/2 - 2 hours). Drain and set aside.
Cook your dried cholla buds by soaking them overnight in plenty of water. The next day, drain the water (you can water your plants with this), place soaked buds in a small saucepan covering them with fresh water. Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer until buds are soft (about 1/2 - 1 hour). Drain and set aside.
To a stockpot, add the olive oil, heat over medium. Sauté the fennel slices and onions until soft (a couple of minutes).
Add the vegetable stock, cooked beans, roasted garlic, and cooked cholla buds. Allow soup to simmer to combine the flavors, adding water if necessary to thin it out. Add the verdolagas and cook until wilted. Add the lemon juice.
Serve in individual bowls, garnished with fennel fronds and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
*White tepary beans and dried cholla cactus buds are available from Native Seed Search in Tucson, AZ
**To roast garlic, cut an unpeeled garlic head in half. Drizzle with olive oil. Place in heavy tin foil and wrap tightly. Roast in a 400 degree oven until soft and caramelized – about 30 minutes. Your house will smell amazing. Remove from foil and squeeze out the roasted garlic. You can then mash them with the back of a fork or in a mortar and pestle.