On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “hate” and 10 being “love,” how do you feel about beans? Second question… How do you feel about tortilla soup?
When Facebook fans were asked this question over the weekend, the results were undoubtedly clear: you either love them, or hate them.
When I was a kid, I was a 1. I hated everything there was to dislike about beans. The taste, the smell, the idea, the word. Wouldn’t touch them with a 20 foot pole.
It took 15 years to warm up to a level 5. In high school I spent every Sunday waiting tables at a small Mexican restaurant in our town. If we worked seven hours, employees could have lunch for free, as long as they chose a meal from a certain section of the menu. Ritualistic of most Mexican restaurants, each available meal came with refried beans. As a hungry and poor teenager with a car payment, I learned to tolerate refried beans. Whole beans, on the other hand, you couldn’t PAY me to eat them. I wasn’t that poor and hungry.
Here we are another 15 years (plus a few) later and beans are now one of my favorite foods. I love that they’re frugal – as little as 15¢ per cup when you start with dry beans.
They’re INCREDIBLY nutritious. 8g of protein per half cup, rich in soluble fiber (like oatmeal) and filled with all the various nutrients that most of us don’t get enough of (like copper, phosphorus, manganese and magnesium).
The powerful nutrition lineup in beans help our bodies by preventing heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis. Our cholesterol levels can be lowered, constipation can reduced and battles with digestive issues (including colon cancer) are won. (source)
One of the coolest non-nutritional factors about beans is the fact that they can sit in a pantry for MONTHS and not go rancid. This goes for canned AND dry beans.
Mastering canned beans is a cinch too. No cooking experience required. Open, dump, heat, serve.
Mastering dry beans however leans to the tricky side. And despite making them consistently for a few months now, they’re still slightly tough in my minestrone soup.
I consider myself a lucky gal since my family has warmed up to the idea of eating beans, undercooked and all. Although this wasn’t always the case. Allow me to share my first dry bean making experience:
While searching for dinner ideas based on what we had in the kitchen, “bean burritos” showed up a few times, seemingly popular among other mommy bloggers. Following their lead, I pulled out the stepstool, climbed up and pulled the beans down from the shelf. They were thrown into the crock pot, covered with chicken stock and the heat was set to medium. (Medium seemed “safe” for the first attempt at beans.)
They bubbled happily in the slow cooker for several hours and shortly before lunch, the immersion blender turns the pot into the smoothest bean puree my eyes had ever seen.
Lunch was assembled and served in less than a minute. I was beaming with pride for trying something new, the elusive and tricky BEAN no less! The kids however, gave both the beans AND me the stink eye.
Problem: A heaping smear of brown mash in a tortilla is not necessarily the best way to introduce beans to your children.
Tortilla soup is the second soup I made for my family during a season that I affectionately call the “you are going to learn to like beans if it’s the last thing I do” phase. It was hard to follow up the hearty minestrone, for two reasons.
One, it’s the first soup we ate with beans. There’s no wiggle room when you’re convincing someone that something tastes good. It MUST taste good, every single time, until they’ve been won over. And then it’s okay to under cook it a bit. 😉
Second, tortilla soup was the first homemade soup we ate PERIOD. Prior to minestrone, soup came from a can. If I remember correctly, 10 of the 12 cans of soup we bought at Costco nearly five years ago were still in my pantry when I cleaned it out at the end of last year. YIKES! Clearly, soup wasn’t on our menu often. 😉
You can sense the pressure I was under. Mentioning “new soup” with “beans” in the same sentence raised eyebrows and red flags. The troops were on to me. My plan of attack had to be spot on!
This tortilla soup recipe is a combination of several recipes found during the reconnaissance mission. Lots of vegetables came from one, lots of beans (and no meat) from another and lots of spice from another still. This recipe is fantastic all by itself, can easily be tailored to what you have on hand and can turn into a meal worthy of company with just a few extras.
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
- 2-3 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed (or 1½- 2 cups cooked dry beans)
- 1 15oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (or 1½ - 2 cups cooked dry beans)
- 1 15oz can corn (or 1½ - 2 cups fresh kernels or frozen)
- 2 15oz cans diced tomatoes, with liquid (any variety)
- 1 cup chili verde salsa (we like La Victoria)
- 2 quarts bone broth (homemade if possible)
- 2 Tbsp taco seasoning *
- 1 tsp cumin *
- ½ tsp chili *
- optional toppings (see below)
- In a large pot, sauté garlic, onion, carrots and celery with olive oil and butter until onions become translucent. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for at least 30 minutes. A longer simmer will create a more flavorful soup. Makes 5-6 quarts.
This tortilla soup adapts well to a slow cooker. Simply combine all the ingredients and turn the heat to medium-low and let it cook all day.
Make it company worthy by serving crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole and freshly chopped cilantro on the side. Allow guests to top their own soup. If time permits, freshly baked bread is always nice (jalapeno focaccia perhaps?). 🙂