I adapted this from a recipe in the Big Book of Vegetarian by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley – a lovely cookbook that I bought for its incredible asparagus pesto recipe (I highly recommend it). I love cookbooks, but I very rarely follow recipes exactly. Instead I see them as a great way to get inspired. For instance, I was really interested in making black bean soup – so I looked up this recipe, which consisted of a delicious looking soup served with a homemade lime-bell pepper salsa (intriguing!). I thought rather than serving the soup with this salsa, I would just include the salsa ingredients in the soup, plus throw in some cilantro, roasted Poblano chilies, tex-mex seasoning, corn, and cocoa powder. Also, where the recipe called for small pasta, I instead topped the soup with migas (pan-fried tortilla pieces) and sprinkled hot pepper Jack cheese on top. That gave it a similar presentation to French onion soup, and actually I love the idea of serving this soup in French onion soup bowls. I didn’t broil the tops, because I wanted to serve it with the migas still a little crunchy. Unlike the bread in French onion soup, the migas are very thin so absorb the soup quite quickly, and because the soup and the migas were both very hot the grated cheese melted almost instantly.
This soup was pretty delicious, and tasted a little like soup made of tacos, which was fine by me.
(Apologies for the lack of accurate spice measurements)
- 1 average sized poblano chili, roasted and diced (I only had one chili, but I’d be inclined to throw in two the next time. But I love poblano chilies.)
- a few tablespoons of oil, for sautéing
- 1 medium sized onion, diced
- 1 small green bell pepper, diced
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, diced
- 1 bunch cilantro, leaves removed from stems
- a generous sprinkle of black pepper
- a few shakes of dried hot red pepper
- a couple tablespoons of lime juice
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoon tex-mex spice mix (I use Club House – if you don’t have this you can throw in more red pepper flakes, chili powder, onion powder and maybe some cayenne)
- 5 teaspoons of cumin
- 1/2 large can crushed or diced tomatoes (with juice) or a whole 16 oz can
- 3 1/2 cups of vegetable broth (I used from a carton, but feel free to used canned, bouillon and water or make your own)
- 3 cups of water (or 2, if you want the soup to be thicker)
- 2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 3/4 cup frozen (or canned) corn niblets
- 5 teaspoons of cocoa powder
- 3+ ten-inch flour tortillas
- Jalapeño or other hot pepper jack or cheddar cheese, or plain jack or cheddar if you prefer, grated.
Start by roasting the poblano chili(es). Poblano chilies have waxy skin, and so taste much better roasted and the skin removed. (If you can’t get your hands on fresh Poblano chilis try ancho chilies, which are what they’re called when they’re dried) I did this under the broiler – but you can do it over the flame on a gas stove, if you prefer. Place the chili on a baking sheet under the broiler for about 8 minutes, or until the skin blackens and blisters, then turn the chili over and repeat. When it is finished place in a paper bag to cool (I put mine in the fridge). When cool skin should peel off easily. Dice and set aside.
While waiting for the chili to roast, dice onions, both bell peppers and garlic cloves, and remove cilantro leaves from stems. Heat oil in a soup pot – add onion and garlic, and sauté on medium heat for a minute or two, add dried red pepper, black pepper, and lime juice, add peppers and cook until they begin to soften, about five minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, tex-mex seasoning and your roasted poblano pepper, and cook about a minute (be careful not to burn the spices). Add crushed tomatoes to stop cooking. Add broth, water beans, corn, and cilantro. Bring to a boil and then let simmer about 45 minutes (or longer, depending on how patient you are and how cooked you want all the elements of the soup).
About ten minutes before the soup is ready add cocoa powder. Cut the tortillas into squares, and heat some olive oil in a frying pan. When oil is quite hot, add the tortillas and stirring constantly cook until they are crispy. How much oil you use for this depends on whether you want your migas to be fried or lightly sautéed/toasted. Both are delicious. If you fry them, blot with paper towel before serving over the soup.
Grate the cheese.
Serve soup in bowls topped with migas and grated cheese. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.
I recommend making the migas fresh any time you serve the soup – so only make enough migas for the people eating. While this soup could easily feed 6 people, 3 flour tortillas is about enough migas for 3 if you are topping the soup pretty generously with the migas (or two quite hungry people who are going to have seconds. Or if your dinner companion/sous-chef is, like mine, obsessed with migas and decides to eat more migas than soup.)
Oh, and apologies for the terrible photograph. I don’t have an actual digital camera, so I took this with my computers webcam. It doesn’t do this very tasty soup justice.