This hearty stew originated as a favorite vegetarian dinner for Lolly and me a few years back. This time I decided get all wild and crazy (it takes very little for a boring guy like me to get there) and throw in some chorizo to accentuate that traditional Mexican-style flavor profile. It also adds a little extra spice. For my vegetarian readers, feel free to leave that out — it’s totally delicious in the original form.
I use canned black beans for this recipe — one of my favorite kitchen short-cuts because it’s rare for me to remember to soak dry beans the night before. Here are your ingredients to make 8 hungry people happy:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, medium dice
- 1 green bell pepper, medium dice
- 1 large or 2 medium carrots, medium dice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can (15 oz) stewed tomatoes
- 3 cans (15 oz) black beans
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1½ tsp ground cumin
- 1 qt. vegetable stock
- 1 can (15 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
- ½ tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 tsp salt, or to taste
- Sour cream, shredded cheddar and fresh chopped cilantro for garnishes
- Optional: 4 cups cooked white rice
- Optional: 1 lb. chorizo
If you decide to go with the chorizo, you’ll want to cook it before starting the main dish. I prefer links with the casings removed, and then cut up into bite-sized chunks. Fry them up to a rich brown color, then drain them on paper towels to remove excess fat — you won’t want that floating in your finished soup.
On to the main soup recipe: In a large pot, heat the oil on medium-high and throw in the onion, pepper, carrot and garlic to sweat until tender, which should take about 5 minutes. While that is working, break out your blender and puree the stewed tomatoes with one can of the black beans — this will thicken your soup later. When your veggies are done sweating, stir in the chili powder and cumin to mix thoroughly. Next come the vegetable stock, two remaining cans of black beans, corn, salt and black pepper. If you’re using the chorizo, add it here as well.
Bring the soup up to a boil, then back it down to a simmer. Stir in the tomato-black bean puree, and let your stew simmer happily for about 30 minutes until everything is tender and all your flavors are well blended. Adjust your seasonings right before you’re ready to serve, and maybe even throw in a little pinch of cayenne pepper if you’re the adventurous sort.
One of the things that makes this dish a satisfying meal instead of just a soup is the extras. I love mine with about a half-cup of cooked white rice in the bottom of the bowl, plus some shredded cheese, sour cream and fresh cilantro leaves for garnishes. Serve it up with a nice crusty loaf on the side, and nirvana awaits! Every time I make this stew we munch it down with a big happy grin on our faces, and I have no doubt we will continue to do that for years to come. I hope you’ll try it and grin along with us. Until next time: Eat well, my friends!