Making this soup felt a little like cheating. Not A-Rod-style cheating or anything: just too easy. To make it, I chopped up a few vegetables (sad looking ones, at that: a misshapen onion, a droopy stalk of celery, a lone carrot tucked in the back of the crisper drawer), cranked open a few cans, tore into a bag of frozen corn kernels and, presto!, a soup was born.
And a good soup, too: one that’s shot through with a warm, smoky heat and brightened up with a squeeze of lime juice. Not just that, but it’s pretty! Sunny corn niblets, bright orange chunks of carrot, and whisps of minced cilantro all bob in the rosy broth, alongside purple-black beans.
The return (tasty! pretty!) for my investment (fast! pantry/freezer staples!) felt too good to be true. I had to be missing something, right? As it turns out, the soup didn’t hold up that well over time (which undermines my usual number one reason for making soup: leftovers). My guess is that it was too many canned/frozen ingredients. I’ve dutifully toted leftovers to work all week, but day by day, the flavors became more muted, the beans less toothsome and the corn more water-logged. If I’d had them on hand, I suspect a fresh spritz of lime or creamy wedges of avocado or a dollop of sour cream (or all three!) could’ve pepped the soup back up. I’m also wondering if a couple variations (admittedly more time-consuming and less convenient) might help too: dried beans soaked overnight and cooked slowly back to plumpness; fresh corn shaved off the corn in the height of the summer. In the meantime, I think I’ll save this recipe for the nights when I’m pinched for time and I don’t want to make a run to the store. And, I’ll be sure to make a single or half-batch too.
Black-Bean Corn Soup
Adapted from Cooking Light
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 chipotle pepper, canned in adobo sauce, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (preferaby Mexican oregano)
1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)
2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock, for a vegetarian soup)
1 14-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
salt, to taste
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
juice of 1 lime
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic and saute until the onions become translucent and the vegetables soften. Add the chipotle, cumin and oregano and saute for another couple minutes.
Stir in tomatoes, broth and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Add salt to taste. Add corn, cilantro and lime juice. Serve with additional cilantro and lime wedges.