‘Hot’ bean soup

Posted on: 6th February, 2017

Category: A Flavour of West Cork

Contributor: Karen Austin

Lettercollum Kitchen Project, 22 Connolly Street, Clonakilty • www.lettercollum.ie • Karen@lettercollum.ie

The garden is still slumbering and there’s not much happening on the vegetable front so I thought it would be fun to investigate aphrodisiac foods for the Valentine’s edition.

Along the way I have discovered that Valentine’s Day started out as the Roman feast of fertility. Goats and dogs were sacrificed by naked men who used the hides of the animals to whip women followed by a type of matchmaking lottery to partner everyone up for the duration of the festival. Certainly sounds wild. The Roman church then got involved and toned it all down by nominating Saint Valentine and everyone put their clothes back on. Latterly it has become a commercial festival but hey ho maybe we all need a little escapism and fun in February when the rain is pelting on the windows and we’re all stuck inside.

It’s certainly interesting how many foods lay claim to aphrodisiac superpower and many of them are every day fruit and vegetables.

Trawling through the Internet I found long lists, from avocados to zucchinis

A request for a soup recipe, which could sound very ordinary, made me think it would be fun to jizz it up a bit for the occasion, so here we go.

This recipe for Black Bean Soup with Avocado Salsa has plenty to stimulate the system.

The Aztecs believed so strongly in the power of avocados that they kept their daughters locked up during the avocado harvest and black beans have plenty of tryptophan, which should get you in the mood. Chillies stimulate endorphins, which are the bodies opiate feel-good chemicals and get the blood rushing round – even the celery lays claim to aldosterone, which increases the subtle scents emitted by humans and animals to attract each other – so if you make this soup don’t be surprised if everyone who eats it becomes frisky!

The recipe is very simple. The secret lies in the slow sweating of the vegetables before throwing in a can of black beans, a can of tomatoes and vegetable stock.

The avocado salsa is easy to make but sourcing the perfect avocado might take some forward thinking. Ripe avocados can be difficult to come by but a few days in your fruit basket should do wonders if your avocado is on the hard side. Just put a ‘DO NOT EAT ME’ sign on it whilst it ripens in case some enthusiast comes along and eats it just as it reaches peak condition.

Eat with toasted tortillas to keep to the Aztec theme.

Black Bean Soup with Avocado Salsa


• 1 onion

• 2 stems celery

• 1 carrot

• 1 leek

• 2-3tbs olive oil

• 2-3 cloves garlic

• 1 can tomatoes

• 1 can black beans – rinsed and drained

• 300ml vegetable stock

• 2 tsp ground cumin

• small bunch fresh coriander

• lime juice


Peel and chop the onion. Heat a saucepan on a medium heat, add the oil and gently sweat the onion. Chop the celery finely and stir into the onion. Peel and chop the carrot into small pieces, add to the pot. Wash the leek, making sure there’s no grit between the leaves. Discard the very green part and chop the rest finely. Stir in with the rest of the vegetables, Season with a little salt and cook gently until all the vegetables have melted down.

Peel and chop the garlic and stir in. Cook for two to three minutes then add the tomatoes, black beans, cumin and stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for fifteen minutes.

Take off the heat and buzz with a hand held blender or put in a processor until smooth. If it is too thick, thin with a little water until you are happy with the consistency.

Taste. Add more salt if needed, a little squeeze of lime juice and serve with freshly chopped coriander and avocado salsa

Avocado Salsa

• 1 just ripe avocado

• 1 very small red onion or part of

• 1 ripe tomato

• 1 chilli – take the seeds out if you don’t like hot

• juice of half a lime

• fresh coriander

• salt to taste

Squeeze the lime juice into a bowl. Carefully peel the avocado, slice it into strips then dice into small cubes – you don’t have to be fussy about the shape just try to get similar size.

Peel the red onion and dice very finely. Use as much as you fancy but don’t bury the avocado in onion

Cut the tomato into half, scoop out the seeds and dice to a similar size as the avocado.

Chop the chilli finely – remove the seeds if you don’t want the heat

Add a little chopped coriander and toss everything together. Taste and season with a little salt.

Serve the black bean soup in bowls with a spoonful of salsa piled in the middle.

Eat with caution!

Happy February


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Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.

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20th March, 2018  ·  


This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

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Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

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