There’s nothing better than a warm hearty soup on a miserable day, right? Particularly if it packs a bit of a spicy punch as well…
I present to you,
my latest obsession:
Chilli Bean Soup!
Perhaps not the most original concept, but I decided to ditch the recipe books and just go with the flow on this one. Over time, this happy-go-lucky approach has resulted in some absolute disasters (erm, anyone ever tried adding ice-cream to watercress sauce to ‘make it more creamy’? B-A-D.) but on this occasion it worked a treat!*
* improvising, not ice-cream 😉
This turned out perfectly, although there’s plenty of scope to improvise and experiment. I’ve made it LOADS recently, varying the types of beans each time, but the version below seems to give the best results. The black eyed beans are nice and firm, giving a nice bit of texture. It can easily be adapted to veggie or vegan tastes by omitting the beef (or using a meat-free alternative) and using vegetable stock in place of beef stock. (Obviously you’ll have to get creative on cheese & sour cream alternatives for the garnish!)
For the soup (makes 5-6 servings):
- 250g black eyed beans (drained weight)
- 250g red kidney beans (drained weight)
- 400g tin of chopped tomatoes in juice
- 250 mL orange juice
- 200 mL water (approx. – judge by eye!)
- 500 mL beef or vegetable stock
- 250g lean minced/ground beef
- large red bell pepper
- 1 red onion
- 350g squash – I used rolet (as pictured) but butternut would work perfectly
- generous splash of balsamic vinegar
- 4 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- half tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper – adjust to taste
- 1 fresh/preserved chili pepper – adjust to taste
- olive oil – or whatever you use
To garnish, if you feel so inclined:
- corn tortilla chips
- sour cream
- grated cheese
- chunks of avocado or a dollop of guacamole
- Prep the vegetables – peel & de-seed the squash, cut into chunks about 3-4cm big. Chop the onion and red pepper into slightly smaller pieces. Finely chop or mince the garlic and fresh chilli.
- Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed pot (I improvised with a wok), add the garlic, chilli and onion. Fry until softened, stirring frequently to prevent catching.
- Add the beef, breaking up any large chunks with a wooden spoon. Cook until well browned.
- Add the chunks of squash, the orange juice, the tin of tomatoes and 200 mL of stock. Allow to simmer until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork (~10-15 min). Add water to top up as the liquid reduces.
- Pour in the remaining stock, along with the red peppers and the 2 types of bean. Continue to simmer until the pepper becomes tender (~5 min).
- Season with the tomato puree, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cayenne. Stir well to ensure even distribution.
- Remove about one third of the mixture and blend before returning to the rest of the soup.
- Pile into bowls, top with tortilla chips, a dollop of sour cream, the grated cheese and avocado or guacamole.
This tastes even nicer the next day if stored in the fridge; the flavours have time to really combine and infuse. It also freezes well for a quick meal another time.
With some dips and the rest of the tortilla chips on the table, it’s a satisfying and sociable dish – I’ll be serving it next time friends are over for a movie night!