Mexican Black Bean Soup

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Remember this one? Well, you might recall the images but perhaps not the recipe because it never quite made it to the blog as I created it for an online magazine a couple of years back. I thought it about time I posted it here though so here it is in all its spicy, creamy, Mexicana glory… oh, and here’s the original article too!

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I am hopelessly devoted to Mexican cuisine. Spice and citrus, texture and taste, colourfully vibrant and abundantly fresh, it really does have it all. I often try to remember what my life was like prior to discovering this most wonderful of cuisines and worry that had I not spent two years in Chicago I would never has fully experienced everything Mexican food has to offer.

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Believe it or not Chicago has a mahoosive Mexican population (the third largest in the US apparently!) and we lived right smack bang in the middle of a huge Mexican district. There were taco joints on every corner and two 24hr Mexican restaurants mere minutes from my house. Suffice to say it was Mexican Food nirvana and I took full advantage – at least twice a week, eek!

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Now that I’m back in Blighty with barely a single Mexican restaurant in sight I have to provide my own tacos, burritos, quesadillas, chimichangas, salsas, guacs and soups – oh yes, did I mention that Mexican’s are big on their soups?

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Wait a second though. Isn’t Mexican food heavily reliant on cheese, sour cream, meat and chicken stock? The short answer is yes but that doesn’t mean to say you can’t work around that and create perfectly authentic Mexican meals in your own kitchen completely sans animal products. Because, above everything else, it is the spices and herbs that bring any Mexican dish alive. Otherwise you’re just eating bread, cheese and meat, right?

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In my world Mexican food spells ‘Chipotle’. No, I’m not talking about the fast food place, I’m referring to the smoked chilli pepper that can be chopped, made into pastes or bought powder in form. As it can be quite difficult to obtain chipotle chilli’s here in the UK, I rely on the powder, which I buy from an awesome retailer called the Cool Chile Co.

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If you’re lacking in the chipotle department, never worry, you can acquire a similar flavour by just using a little more cumin and paprika – just make sure it is the smoked variety. However, if you want to evoke that true Mexican flavour in this or any other Mexican inspired dish then you really should invest in a little jar of chipotle goodness. You have been told!

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This black bean soup is so velvety, thick and luscious and, unless you’re already  familiar with blended bean soups, unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. What an easy way to wow your guests at your Mexican themed dinner party, or do as I do and make it for a very quick and tasty lunch…

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Ahem, recipe below.

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Ingredients

½ sweet red pepper

½ red chilli

1x400g carton or can of organic black beans

1 tsp chipotle powder

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp vegan vegetable bouillon powder

2 sprigs of thyme

½ tsp dried oregano

Juice ½ lime

Few splashes of vegan fish free Worchester sauce

olive oil

Salt and pepper

to serve

¼ roughly chopped avocado

few sprigs of flat leaf parsley or coriander

spritz of lime

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Method

Chop and deseed the red pepper and chilli pepper into small pieces.

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Heat a little oil in a saucepan. Add the pepper, season with salt and pepper and lightly sauté for a few minutes until it begins to soften. Stir frequently.

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Add the chopped chilli, chipotle, cumin, paprika and stir to combine. Sweat for several minutes allowing the flavours of the spices to infuse.

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Drain and rinse the black beans and add to pan. Stir to coat the beans in all the spices, the thyme leaves, oregano and let it warm through before sprinkling in the vegetable bouillon and topping with water – you want the water to just cover the beans, as too much liquid will impair the texture.

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Splash in a few drops of Worchester sauce and bring it all to a gentle simmer.

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Transfer to a blender, add the lime juice and blitz until completely smooth. Return to pan and gently heat. Taste for seasoning.

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Serve with avocado, parsley or coriander and a spritz of fresh lime.

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Eat!

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