What goes into a good soup? First, and most important, fearlessness! Open the refrigerator door and look around. Grab some protein (leftover cooked chicken, or sausage or tofu or hamburger meat), last night's vegetables or scraps a heartbeat away from the compost pile, some homemade broth. Root around in the pantry for canned beans, hot peppers, spices. Chop an onion. Toss everything into a pot, let it simmer for a while, and taste. Adjust with more of one ingredient or another. Have faith, because everyone can make great soup.
My favorite soups come from countries where the weather is hot, and the food is hotter. In this recipe inspired by dishes I've enjoyed throughout Mexico, black beans, chile peppers, and lime take center stage. If spicy food isn't your thing, replace the chipotle pepper with just a teaspoon of the adobo sauce from the can, or with a pinch of smoked paprika, and swap plain chopped tomatoes for the RoTel. If beans aren't your thing, I think Israeli couscous would be great. You can use less ground beef, and more cabbage, or replace the ground beef with ground turkey. Remember, be fearless, and make this soup your own.
Spicy black bean, beef, and cabbage soup with lime and queso
From the pantry, you'll need: onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder, dried thyme, chipotle chile in adobo, chicken broth, beef broth, RoTel, canned black beans, lime, kosher salt, fresh black pepper.
Serves 6-8; can be multiplied.
1-3/4 lb ground beef (I use organic 85% fat-free)
1/2 red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp dried thyme leaf, or 2 tsps fresh thyme leaf
1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 cups beef broth
1 can RoTel (or canned chopped tomatoes)
29-oz can black beans, partially drained
3 cups shredded cabbage
Juice of 1 lime
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
Crumbled queso (Mexican white cheese) or feta cheese, for garnish
A few cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
In a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot, brown meat over medium heat.( You will not need to use any oil if you're using beef. For ground turkey, you'll need to add 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.)
Add onion and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes. When the onion is soft, add cumin, chili powder, thyme, and chipotle pepper. Then, pour in both broths and and the RoTel, plus the beans. Stir everything together.
Raise the heat to high, and bring the soup to a boil.
Then, reduce to simmer, add cabbage and lime, and cook for 5 minutes or until the cabbage wilts slightly.
Taste, and season with kosher salt and fresh black pepper.
Serve hot, topped with crumbled queso or feta cheese, and cilantro leaves. Or, cool completely, pack the soup into airtight containers, and freeze (do not garnish with cheese before freezing).
More black bean soups:
Black bean, tomato and sausage soup, from The Perfect Pantry
Turkey soup with black beans, corn, and green chiles, from The Perfect Pantry
Chipotle black bean tortilla soup, from Minimalist Baker
Chicken, black bean, and cilantro soup, from Kalyn's Kitchen
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