This is a vegetarian version of a Mexican classic—spiced with chilis and cumin and finished with a squeeze of lime. Here’s an opportunity to clear out the fridge—toss in potato cubes, grated turnip, rutabaga or chopped greens with the broth. Just about anything will work. If you can find corn on the cob, all the better. But don’t pitch the cobs out—add ’em to the pot to steep a deep, flavorful broth.
Serves 6 to 8
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
- 2 Anaheim (or other mild) chilis, chopped
- 1 large carrot, shredded
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can tomatoes
- 1 can black beans, rinsed well and drained
- 1 ½ cups frozen corn (or two ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob, cobs reserved)
- 6 cups water or broth
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Vegetable oil
- 4 corn tortillas
- ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1 ripe avocado cut into cubes
- Lime wedges
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, cumin and chili powder. Sauté until onion is soft, then add chili pepper, carrot and celery. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Chop tomatoes finely and add to pot with can juices. Add beans, corn (and reserved cob, if using), broth, one teaspoon salt, and one-half teaspoon pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Cover, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste and add more salt as needed.
- Cut tortillas into long strips about 1/8th inch wide. Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add tortilla strips (you’ll need to cook in batches). Cook on one side until lightly browned, then turn with a spatula and cook on the other side. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Blot off excess oil.
- Before serving, remove corncob from pot, ladle soup into individual bowls and garnish with a small handful of tortilla strips, cilantro leaves, ripe avocado and a squeeze of lime.