“Balmy” is the word that springs to mind when describing winter in Sydney so far this year, with mid-August temperatures peaking as high as 27° Celsius during the day. While this madness great for camping, it’s not so great for cracking out the serious winter wardrobe and getting cosy with some hearty comfort food (aka my favourite thing to do). In an effort to channel the chill and cling desperately to the last few weeks of winter, I made a wintry Mexican-inspired soup this week. Packed with beans, chilli, and spices, it’s vegetarian-friendly and super easy to whip up after work, making for a fantastic mid-week dinner (even if it is warm enough to eat outside without a jumper on). This quantity made enough for two good dinner servings, and a lunch the next day.
Heat a little olive oil in a pot and add half a chopped onion. Cook until the onion starts to brown, then add 2 teaspoons each of smoked paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander seeds, and 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, raw cacao powder, and chilli flakes (add more chilli if you fancy). Stir until the onions are coated in the spice mixture and it’s all lovely and fragrant, then add a tin of chopped tomatoes, a crushed clove of garlic, half a tin of either kidney or black beans, a good pinch of salt and pepper, and stir until combined.
Turn off the heat and blend the mixture until it’s nice and smooth, either with a stick blender or by transferring to a regular blender. Pop the mixture back in the pot and turn on the heat, then stir through the rest of the tin of beans. Pour in a cup of vegetable stock* and bring to the boil, season well with salt and pepper, then reduce the heat and simmer for around half an hour (adding more stock or water if necessary). When you’re ready to serve, stir a squeeze of lime juice through the soup, then ladle into bowls and top with chopped coriander, a good dollop of thick Greek yoghurt, a swirl of olive oil, and serve up with some toasted corn tortillas.
* A note on veggie stock: I make mine from scratch by chucking any vegetable scraps/peelings/ends into a large ziplock bag and stashing in the freezer. Once the bag is full, I tip it all into a big pot, top with water, season well with salt and pepper, and let simmer for an hour or so until it’s nice and thick. I then run it all through a mesh sieve, freeze the stock in small batches, and rake the leftover veggie mush through my building’s communal garden. Not as good as having a working compost system, but miles better than chucking it all in the bin.