Thursday, December 09, 2010

Fiesta Soup

   Well, I'm finally coming around to writing again, and glad to be. There are so many yummy goodies to share this time of year. As the air gets cooler out and our heat cranked up indoors, food in general seems to beckon more loudly than ever (and, unfortunately drown out the calls of the gym. shame.). I've lately been most enjoying soups and teas and lattes and sweet potatoes and oatmeal and pretty much anything that warms me from the inside out. I've welcomed a new guest into my little home in the last couple weeks, one I've been entertaining the thought of for a couple years now. Lila is her name. She's a marvelous house guest, a bit messy and not well aware of personal boundaries, but sweet as pie. I picked her up at the Humane Shelter on Thanksgiving weekend and am absolutely agog. She's a 3 month-old Shepherd-Lab mix with a stubborn will and gentle disposition. We have a love-hate relationship at present, as she is not very conducive to my work-sleep schedule. At every odd hour she demands a trip outdoors, which, though quite necessary, is not the most pleasant when bundled so nicely under the covers, knowing a 16-degree wind awaits. I got little sleep today (back on night shift) due to the bone-knawing, paper-tearing, tail-wacking, and hourly pounces on the face by my new friend wanting her lazy playmate to wake up! (evidently i still have some training to do...). However, despite these inconveniences, I will say that having her has slowed me down a bit and is causing me to breathe more deeply and enjoy little moments. I've actually come to treasure the earliest morning bathroom trip to the yard when I can sit on my swing and breathe in the crisp air, listen to the quiet that only comes with 3am, and watch the frost twinkle in the moonlight. I do rather enjoy it. All this, to say two things: One, I've not been cooking as much as I normally would due to the demands of this little companion. And, two, being dragged into the cold so often is making me all the more hungry for a warm something in my belly. Which brings us now to...Fiesta Soup. I just named it. Let me tell you about it...

    I found this recipe in some magazine a few years ago and have adopted it and loved it every winter since. There are so many reasons to love it. First, it's about the easiest soup you will ever find. Mix up some canned beans and corn, throw in some salsa and broth, heat it up, chop up a few toppings of choice, and you've pretty much got your soup! 10 minutes max, really, including prep time. Can you beat this? And, really, what must follow is that it's totally okay that it doesn't take long to make it because it's still so good. In other words, you're not losing flavor by not stirring over a stovetop for an hour. It's a simply tasty soup. The main characters, I suppose, are the beans and corn. They take up the most space, at least. The beans give it some meatiness. The corn, a sweet snap to each bite. Then, the salsa. I love that you just throw in salsa. It gives a bit of heat to the dish (that is, if you choose the hotter option). The best part, in my opinion, is the freshness of the toppings: avocado, cilantro, green onion, sour cream, lime, cheddar cheese. Yum! This makes it. I load it with all of the above (especially the green stuff) and it lends a wonderful cool, crisp contrast to the heated soup it covers. Thirdly, this soup is great for you! I use light sour cream and the cheese is optional. I had it tonight without any and it was fabulous. I like to scoop tortilla chips into it and eat the chunkier bites like a dip. And then I usually throw in an apple on the side. Lovely. I hope you like it as much as I do (and for you cilantro-haters out there, just leave it out. it won't be nearly as good, but do what you must. :).

serves 4
adapted from a recipe by a guy named "Bart" in a magazine. that's all i got. :)

1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
1 cup chunky salsa (i used medium heat)
1+1/2 cups chicken broth (or try vegetable for a fully vegetarian dish)

juice of 1-2 small limes
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4T chopped green onions
4 big dollops sour cream
a couple big handfuls fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
2 avocados, diced
salt and hot sauce, to taste

1. In a large microwave-safe bowl (or, if only dishing up one serving, use whatever you want to store the extra soup in, then you can just serve it into your serving bowl when ready to heat your portion), combine the first four ingredients (and hot sauce if you think you need it). 
2. Cover and microwave on high for several minutes or until heated through. 
3. Pour into 4 serving bowls and top each with equal amounts of the remaining ingredients. Serve it up and enjoy with tortilla chips. That's it!

*By the way, I should explain the name. I thought about calling it Black Bean Soup, but it's not really that, but so much more. And then I considered Tortilla Soup, but that usually involves chicken and more tomatoes, so that wouldn't do. And then I thought maybe just Black Bean and Corn Soup, but, how drab is that. So, Fiesta Soup came to mind. It claims it as a tex-mex type soup and lets every ingredient play an important role in the party. Perfect.

Meet Lila. :)

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