Guilty pleasure: Canned black bean soup, with MSG

goyablackbeans.jpgI’m willing to bet that every conscious eater has a skeleton in his or her cupboard — a fetish for a particular corn-syrup-laced treat or microwaveable fat bomb. After all, we’re not nuns here. So I’ll confess first.

My processed-food addiction is to Goya black bean soup. It’s unbelievably thick and gooey, with whole black beans entombed in slightly vinegary black-bean paste. I’m talking about the red can, NOT the blue can, which is just plain old black beans in water without the magic ingredient — monosodium glutamate, or MSG. (I don’t experience any of the unpleasant side effects some do with this additive.)

This is my go-to meal when it’s cold and rainy and I’m too tired to cook, or my stomach’s growling but there’s nothing in the fridge. I eat the soup plain, or stir in some chopped onions, a little salsa, and some grated cheese if I have them, then top with sour cream.

goyalabel.jpgWhen I first moved to the Bay Area, I was a vegetarian, and I was used to eating these frijoles negros at least once a week. (It’s high in protein, but mainly it was because I couldn’t really cook then.) I scoured practically every Safeway and Mexican grocery store in the Outer Mission, where I was living, but I couldn’t find the familiar red labels anywhere. Eventually, my dad shipped me a box to shut me up, and sympathetic enablers have been lugging them out to me, a few cans at a time in their suitcases, from the East Coast for the past 10 years.

And I was hoarding them, secretively. Which is why when I came home not long ago to find the Potato Non Grata having just eaten the very last can from my stash — even though there were lesser black-bean soups strategically placed around to distract him — I freaked.

“I’ll buy you some more,” the Potato shrugged. “I don’t know why you’re making a big deal; they’re not even that good.”

Let me tell you, hell hath no fury like a woman whose beans have been scorned as well as snarfed.

After coming home empty-handed from four grocery stores, he looked a little worried. Eventually he found some at and bought them despite a two-can maximum (!) and $15 in shipping. Not wanting to be caught without my fix again, last time I visited my parents, I boxed up about 25 cans and checked them as luggage. And yes, I have been sharing my stash — and I’ll do so less grudgingly since I’ve since found the beans more readily available online these days.

So there you have it. This Ethicurean loves Goya canned beans with MSG, and I’ll even burn massive amounts of fossil fuel to get them — that is, when I’m not eating SOLE food.

What’s your guilty secret? And more importantly, has anyone in the Bay Area seen Goya’s red-label black beans somewhere I’ve missed? I’ve only got 14 cans left…

9 Responsesto “Guilty pleasure: Canned black bean soup, with MSG”

  1. cookiecrumb says:

    Hah! Yeah, me too: canned beans. Only mine are Rosarita refried, ideally the lard version. Not so rare, but when I lived in Florida for a while, I forced a California pal to lug a bagful eastward when he visited. (Funny, though. I’m just not liking the Rosaritas that much anymore. Have I changed, or have they?)

  2. Omniwhore says:

    My guilty pleasure? Heroin.

    Kidding! However, my dad, Hydropops, introduced me to a delicious treat that I’m not sure I could ever completely resist: Popcorn and peanut M&Ms, mixed together. They have to be peanut M&Ms. I tried the non-HFCS alternatives available in the WF bulk food aisle, but it just wasn’t the same.

    If you think it sounds gross, I’ll have you know that every single person I have met and shared this treat with has become a PMMJ (Popcorn M&M Junkie). So just do yourself a favor and never ever try it.

    Most of the time, I just try not to think about it.

  3. Man of La Muncha says:

    Omniho, I think your guilty pleasure is being mischievous.

  4. The Goya Black Bean Soup is my STAPLE What-To-Have-For-Lunch-Today snack! Low calorie, TONS of protein, and so, so, so, good. I top it with all kinds of fattening junk, use it to make nachos- I LOVE it. And, it makes great rice and beans without the work!!!!!

  5. Tiffany says:

    Yes, I also have a forbidden pleasure. I keep ginger ale around the house to mix with smoothies. I can’t drink it straight and I cannot drink any other kind of pop but I love ginger ale in a fruit smoothie. I also….uhmmm…..keep some velveeta on hand too. Boy I feel guilty admitting to occasionally eating pseudo cheese. :)

  6. DairyQueen says:

    Hi Tiffany: It’s OK. You’re amongst friends. I love ginger ale too and was happy to stumble upon Reed’s Premium Ginger Ale, which is sweetened with honey and pineapple juice and packs a major fresh-ginger-y wallop. (The “original” Reed’s has fructose.) They sell Reed’s at our local Whole Foods.

    While I can’t quite share the Velveeta thing, being a dedicated cheese snob, I do remember fondly the bright-orange tub of “port wine cheddar spread” that I used to dip pretzel sticks into as a kid….mmmm. Thanks for sharing your weaknesses, everybody!

    Hey Spicy — where do you buy your frijoles negros? are you by chance on the West Coast?

  7. Brenda says:

    I just googled “goya black bean soup” in hopes of finding a mail order source.  Our 6 year old son in DESPERATE for his favorite black beans.  We eat them with rice…  beans and rice has always been our “go to” meal when we have nothing better in the fridge.  But we just moved from the east coast to the midwest and they aren’t available here.
    You have verified my fear…. I’m just not going to find them on the store shelves, am I?

  8. Bonnie P. says:

    Brenda: Probably not the Goya red can, no. I still look for them periodically here on the West Coast and never do find them. My dad brings me a box when he comes to visit! I think I have finally moved on from them, however, to Eden Organic Black Beans. They’re totally different tasting, but delicious.

  9. Brenda says:

    Healthier too, I’m sure!  I’ve been testing the various locally available ones (and even tried slow cooking and making my own version), but so far my son hasn’t approved.  Eventually there will be a match!