I've had fun researching suitable food for Hallowe'en. Along the way, I discovered Colcannon, a traditional kale and potato dish which is eaten in Ireland, and Gingerbread Husbands, which were eaten by young village girls to make sure they found a husband. And then I hit upon the brilliant idea of Black Bean Soup. It's spicy, warming, velvety, er- black, and with Mexican hints suitable for the Day of the Dead festival on November 2nd, too. Here's my version:
You can either use tinned black beans (which are hard to find in the UK), or dried beans which you need to soak overnight in cold water. In a pan, cook some chopped smoked bacon in butter for a few minutes. Next, stir in a chopped onion, chopped carrot, and two crushed cloves of garlic. It might also be a good plan to throw in a finely chopped green chili. One of those fiendishly hot small ones. I'll leave that up to you.
Next, you need to add cumin. If you've got time, you can dry-roast some cumin seeds in a hot frying pan, and then when they're popping, take them out and crush them in a pestle and morter. Otherwise you could use powdered cumin. Add the cumin to the pan, and stir in. Cook for a few moments. Tip in the black beans, some chicken stock, and a liberal dash of my favourite Tabasco Sauce.
Simmer on a very low heat with the lid on for about an hour and a half. You want the soup to be thick and velvety. The black beans should thicken everything up. Serve with sour cream, and chopped chives. A spicy Mexican Salsa would be good too.
Luckily, I'm not going to be at home tonight. In recent years, the mean streets of Battersea have become full of roaming gangs of ghouls, witches, Frankensteins and mad axe murderers on Hallowe'en Night. Yup, Tick or Treating has suddenly become big over here. It was quite amusing at first, but last year I found myself under siege, and had to retreat to the back of the house, while the street urchins shouted through my letter box: " 'ere Mishter...we know you're in there", or words to that effect. Well, tonight kiddos, you ain't getting anything from me. That nice Mr Scrooge in Number 43...