Monday, February 25, 2013

Mexican Vegetable Soup

February. The shortest month of the year always seems the longest to me. Last night I arrived home sniffling, sneezing, and starving. A quick rummage in the fridge yielded the ingredients for this fast, satisfying vegetable soup, which gets its kick from ground chile peppers (my next-door neighbor was kind enough to grind a whole bunch in her Vitamix and bring me a jar), and jarred salsa.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in your favorite soup pot. Add half of a yellow onion, 3 cloves of garlic, one or two carrots, and 3 ribs of celery. Don't worry about knife skills here, just chop it all up willy nilly. You're in a hurry, aren't you? Toss in a teaspoon of ground chile peppers. When the mixture is fragrant, add 6 cups vegetable stock (the kind from a box is fine, I'm not judging), 2 peeled and diced Yukon Gold potatoes, and 1/2 cup salsa. Simmer until the potatoes are almost tender (about 10 minutes), then throw in 2 diced zucchini, 2 cups black beans (canned are fine), and 2 cups of kale (or whatever greens you have in the fridge). Simmer for 5 minutes more. Season to taste with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and some minced cilantro and/or parsley.

There. You're done. Wasn't that easy?

Extra credit: If you want to bake up some biscuits while the soup is simmering, throw 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour into your food processor with 1/2 cup cornmeal, 2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Buzz until combined, then add 3 tablespoons vegan butter, and 3 tablespoons plain coconut milk yogurt. Pulse until the mixture is crumbly (if you want to get fancy, throw in some finely chopped jalapeno with the fats), then run the food processor while you pour in 3/4 cup soy, rice, or hemp milk. If you are a Luddite, just put it all in a bowl, mash in the fats with a couple of forks, then stir in the milk. Spray a cast iron skillet with cooking spray, then divide your biscuit mixture into 8 biscuity-looking lumps and throw it in a 400 degree oven while the soup simmers. Your buttery, hot, not-at-all-fancy biscuits will be ready in 12-15 minutes.