When you open a cookbook, a recipe may “jump out” because of its title, its reputation (we know how blogging can hype a recipe long before a cookbook reaches bookshelves), or of course because of its photos. With the volume of recipes in LTEV, I almost wish I had written two separate cookbooks so that I could have offered you all MORE photographs. Ideally, I’d love to have photographs of every single dish, because I think that’s what really ‘sells’ a recipe.
At least I got this recipe photographed for LTEV. Still, I think it may have flown under the radar somewhat because it resembles a chili. For me, this soup is quite different than chili. You know how chili can feel ‘heavy’ after eating it? It’s not just the beans, it’s the thickness of the stew itself, and the ingredients in combination.
As I mention in the description of this Mexican Bean Stew, it is rather different than chili. First, it has no chili spice. Second, it has a lighter broth, and a very distinct earthy, smoky flavor from the cumin seeds. The cumin seeds, in combination with the oregano and cinnamon, give a full, pleasing, intoxicating flavor – without the heaviness of chili.
I really love this photo. I think Hannah beautifully captured the colors and simplicity of this soup.
Wait. Do not stop at the soup!
Definitely make the Chipotle Avocado Cream. It adds a lusciousness to this soup, add a dollop and take a spoonful and you’ll understand why you must pair the two together! This cream is equally good as a substitute for guacamole. You can skip the cashews (see recipe note), and also omit the chipotle sauce for a more neutral flavor that kids really love. You will find yourself going to this sauce for ALL sorts of dishes. With such a rich and velvety texture, it is one of the best vegan sauces to accompany grains, salads, noodles – even to drizzle on hot pizza!
Oh yeah, you can tell I make this avocado cream often. The girls ADORE guacamole, and I find I can stretch those avocs just a little further in a sauce – and that’s important when your kids can easily eat 5-6 avocs in one guacamole hit! (And, I don’t hesitate to let them have that much, they are growing and need these healthy whole food fats. I used to make it with my immersion blender, but now I often just pop the ingredients in my Twister Jar, and then we spoon it straight from that jar.
But, how do you prepare guacamole or an avocado sauce a few hours ahead of time without it turning brown? Or, how do you store leftover guacamole without it oxidizing so badly that you don’t want to eat it. Now, it is rare … rare I say … that we have leftover avocado sauce or guacamole in this house. Usually
my kids are I’m scraping out the bowl or jar with tortilla chips.
However, we have had the odd occasion, I think 3 times in the last 5 years, when I have in fact made too much guacamole or avocado sauce – more than our family can eat. And, I have also wanted to prep guacamole in advance. So, what works best to preserve its color?
I have tried a few different techniques, including the “pit in the centre of the dip” trick. That may be slightly effective, but if the dip or sauce is in the bowl, there is still much oxidization. I have found this technique works the best…
Put your leftover sauce or guac in a cup or other vessel that is tall/narrow rather than shallow and wide like a bowl. There will be less surface area to oxidize, so less will turn brown. For the guac, pack it down as much as you can in the cup. Then squeeze lemon juice over top, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. You can also smooth the plastic wrap directly on to the surface of the guac/sauce if you want, it will also help reduce the browning – but that’s if you are okay with the plastic wrap sitting on the surface of your food.
So, get your plant-powered behind out shopping for a dozen or so avocs (ok, you only need a couple for this recipe, that’s just how many I buy at a time)… and get ready to spoon into some deliciousness!
Mexican Bean Soup with Chipotle Avocado Cream gluten-free, oil-free, soy free
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This soup has bold, vibrant flavors without being heavy, as a chili can be. Be sure to pair with Chipotle Avocado Cream. And avoid substituting cumin powder for cumin seeds—the whole seeds really add a distinctive flavor element.
1 tbsp water
1 1/2 cups red onions, finely chopped
6-7 medium – large cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/4 tsp cumin seed (don’t substitute ground cumin!)
2 ½ tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 – 2 tbsp jalapeno pepper, chopped (adjust to taste, optional, can also sub crushed red pepper, see note)
1 28-oz can (796-ml) diced tomatoes
1 14 or 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14 or 15-oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained (or pinto beans or black beans)
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 vegetable bouillon cube (ex: I use Harvest Sun brand) (not stock, just the cube)
2 ½ – 3 cups water
1 tsp pure maple syrup or agave nectar (optional)
1 ½ tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
chopped fresh cilantro for serving
lime wedges for serving
In a large pot over medium heat, combine the oil or water, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin seed, dried oregano, cinnamon, and jalapeño (if using). Cover and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally; lower the heat if the onion is sticking. Starting with 21⁄2 cups of the water, add the remaining ingredients, except the lime juice, cilantro, lime wedges, and Chipotle Avocado Cream. Stir, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and add the remaining water to thin, if desired. Serve in individual portions with cilantro and lime wedges and a dollop of Chipotle Avocado Cream (recipe below).
Kid-Friendly: If making this soup for a family with young children, you may want to omit the jalapeño so the soup does not have spicy heat. It will still be flavorful, just not spicy hot for the little ones. Also, if you don’t have a fresh jalapeño on hand, feel free to add a few pinches of crushed red chili flakes or a few dashes of hot sauce, to taste.
Chipotle Avocado Cream
This sauce adds lusciousness to any Mexican-inspired meal, and is a must for Mexican Bean Soup.
1 cup (fairly packed) ripe avocado, cut in chunks (about 1 ½ medium-large avocados)
1/3 cup raw cashews (soaked beforehand is preferable, but not essential – see note for nut-free)
1 ½ – 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
½ – 2/3 cup water
1/2 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp pure maple syrup or agave nectar (optional, to taste)
¼ tsp chipotle hot sauce (ex: Tabasco brand) (or more to taste, or omit, see note)
Using a standing blender or an immersion blender and deep cup or jar, puree all the ingredients (starting with 1⁄2 cup of the water). Start on a slow speed to incorporate the cashews, then increase speed to high until very smooth and creamy. Add additional water to thin, as desired, and salt, agave, and chipotle sauce to taste. Dollop on soup, or use as a dip with tortilla chips.
Adult-Minded: I like this sauce with a modest amount of chipotle hot sauce to give a hint of flavor but no added heat. If you like the heat, though, add more hot sauce to taste!
Cashew-Note: You can omit the cashews if you have a nut-allergy. Simply puree the avocado with the water and other ingredients, but you will need less water. Start with about 1/4 cup, then adjust to thin as needed. Also use a lesser amount of salt and adjust to taste.
Kid-Friendly: Omit the chipotle hot sauce altogether, add another 1⁄4 teaspoon of agave nectar, and use this sauce to top your kiddos’ burritos, tacos, or even pasta or simple beans and rice.
Serving Suggestions: This sauce has star power beyond pairings with Mexican-inspired dishes. By merely omitting the chipotle seasoning, this sauce transforms into a creamy, sumptuous topping for just about anything, such as baked beans, rice and grain dishes, pasta casseroles, pizza, baked potatoes, salads, and stews.
Have any handy-dandy food storage/leftover tips to share – for avocados or otherwise?
Hope you love the soup! I’d love to hear from you when you try it. Enjoy my plant-powered pals!