Thursday, November 05, 2009

Mexican Bean Soup-(Not-Tortilla Soup)

You know how sometimes those days happen? It's dinner time and you have no idea what to even start cooking. Maybe you had a plan, but forgot to defrost something. Or maybe you just looked at the clock and realized that people are hungry and it was your job to make something, but you completely forgot about it until now.

I had one of those nights recently. Desperation is the mother of invention, especially in the kitchen.

What I had; a family size can of re-fried beans, (I buy it on sale and break it out for bean and cheese burritos on occasion.) tomato sauce, condensed chicken broth packets, cheese, green onions, frozen corn. What I didn't have were tortillas, otherwise I would have made some burritos for dinner.

So it all became soup instead. Though I wasn't sure about it at first. I mixed the can of beans together in the pot, added the tomato sauce, water, a packet of chicken broth, and spices; ground cumin, a dash of chili sauce, cayenne, oregano, etc.

The beans were already seasoned so I didn't have to add much.

Once it was boiling and smooth I added the frozen corn, turned off the heat and served it with shredded cheese and sliced green onions.

Technically it's tortilla soup, and you can fry up strips of tortilla to put on top like croutons, but I didn't have tortillas, remember? So it was not-tortilla soup. My kids didn't know the difference and were actually delighted to get leftovers for lunch the next day.

The best part about this soup is that it adapts very well to whatever you have. You don't need a can of beans. Some leftover frijoles, black beans (leftovers from Volcanoes perhaps), chicken broth, etc can all be thrown together to make this soup. Or you could plan ahead and cook some pinto beans from dry. If you do, I recommend adding onions, garlic and salt to them as they cook.

The key ingredients are beans, tomato, broth, cumin, and cayenne.

You can add vegetables, such as celery or carrots, substitute cilantro for green onions. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the top. It's really all up to you isn't it? Because, after all, you're the cook.

PS. I'm making this for a potluck this weekend. Instead of putting in corn I plan to use hominy, which is like big corn kernels that are starchy instead of sweet. That should make it more hearty. But I'll need to add in the sweet another way, probably with a can of tomato paste.

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