If you choose to top the stew with grated cheese, as usual I recommend a local variety—hopefully made with goat’s milk or milk from grass-fed cows. Kelp may seem like an unusual ingredient here, but it has several benefits: it makes the beans more digestible, and it also contains flavor-enhancing compounds and loads of minerals and vitamins.
Serves 6 to 8
- 1 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight
- 1 tablespoon kelp flakes, or 1 (3-inch) piece of kelp
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cayenne pepper, seeded and minced, or 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups chopped red onions
- 3 cups peeled, grated sweet potatoes
- 4 cups quartered tomatillos
- 3 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
- 4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
- 1 1/2 cups tightly packed chopped cilantro
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- Grated Cheddar cheese (optional), for garnish
- Drain and rinse the beans, then put them in a large soup pot with the kelp, water, cinnamon, and cayenne. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer.
- Heat the oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sweet potatoes and sauté over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the yams soften and take on a brighter orange color. Add the sauté to the soup pot and continue to simmer for about 45 minutes, until the beans are soft.
- Stir in the tomatillos and tomatoes. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the tomatillos almost melt into the stew. Stir in the corn, cilantro, garlic, cumin, and salt. Taste and adjust the seasonings if desired. Serve topped with the cheese if you like.
Photos by Tracey Eller