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Spanish potaje / White bean Potage, 1913

November 26, 2010

by Krisellen Maloney

 La cocinera poblana, o, El libro de las familias : novisimo manual práctico de cocina española, francesa, inglesa y mexicana, higiene y economía doméstica … México : Herrero Hermanos, Sucesores, 1913. Pp. 29. 

Original Recipe/Receta Original:

Potaje Español, Pp. 29

El potaje español es un conjunto de legumbres y hortalizas reunidas, compuestas con aceite frito, espesado con harina y huevo y servido en los días de viernes…

112. Potaje de frijoles blancos.  Se ponen a cocer, y después del primer hervor se les cambia el agua, y cuando están bien cocidos se componen con cebolla frita, ajos machacados, azafrán y una hoja de hierbabuena; si se quiere espesar, se hace esto con un poco de pan rallado, queso o arroz.  También se componen los fríjoles con aceite crudo, pimienta, perejil y hierbabuena, rehogándolas a fuego manso.  Otros los comen con aceite y vinagre.

Translated Recipe/Receta Traducida:

White Bean Potage, Pp. 29

Spanish potaje is a collection of vegetables, fried in oil, thickened with flour or egg, and served on Fridays.

112. White bean Potage. Bring beans to a boil; then change the water and bring them to a simmer again till cooked.  Then, add fried onions, crushed garlic, saffron and a mint leaf.  If you want to thicken the soup, this can be done by adding grated bread, cheese, or rice.  The beans can also be made with olive oil, pepper, parsley and mint, cooked over low heat. Some people eat this bean soup with oil and vinegar.

How I prepared it:


1 lb of white beans (I used Great Northern Beans)
2 T. lard
1 small onion, chopped (approximately ½  c. chopped onion)
2 garlic cloves, crushed (1 heaping tsp.)
1/8 tsp. of saffron (would use more if I made it again)
1 mint leaf
Queso fresco (optional)
Salt to taste

I prepared the beans as described; boiling for two minutes, changing the water and then cooking for about 3 hours.  The result was completely unimpressive.  I had never prepared beans without some kind of seasoning and, based on the aroma, I was worried that the soup would be too bland.  I decided that, in order to enhance the flavor and to keep true to the time period of the recipe, that I would use lard to fry the onions and garlic.  I had never used lard for cooking and was amazed at how nice it was to work with.   I sauteed the onions and garlic until they were translucent – about 8 minutes – and then added them (with the lard) to the beans.  I simmered the mixture for about 30 minutes and then added the saffron and mint leaf and simmered 5 more minutes.

The picture doesn’t adequately show the yellow color of the soup; it looked and tasted good.  The recipe said that you could add grated bread, cheese or rice to thicken but the soup did not need thickening.   I did add crumbled queso fresco to the top but it was not necessary.  What is necessary for the modern palate is salt.  I added approximately 1 tablespoon.

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