Soup to chase the chill

Come 20 degree nights and the soup’s a calling. Not just any soup. Soup for the Soul. With a kick. A built-in heater and engine starter.

I turned on the on-button for my inner soup Siri (for the creative flair) then foraged through the fridge and pantry for ideas. Leftover cooked pinto beans (made extra when creating enchiladas the night before), squeeze tube of tomato paste (best invention – no more white-frosting mold half-used tomato paste cans, bye-bye), and always there’s an onion and clove of garlic hiding in the potato basket. Vegetable bin was found hiding zucchini and carrots, so cutely nestled side-by-side. Plastic containers of baby spinach are staples for green smoothies, omelets and sauteing as a last-minute side. Or, a soup! A not-so-piquant bottle of red wine waiting to be poured down the sink – oh, no, that’s just the perfect flavor enhancer for soup.

Now, I need a creative name for this soup. Mine’s kind of boring. But oh, it’s so warming and perfectly chill-chasing!

South of the Border Mex-Veg Soup

2 T. olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 medium carrots, sliced

2 small zucchini, cut lengthwise into quarters, then sliced

1 c. frozen corn

12 oz. baby spinach

1 c. red wine

6 c. veggie broth + 1 c. vegetarian broth powder

1 T. cumin seeds, toasted

½ – 1 t. red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ c. tomato paste

1 ½ c. pinto beans (pre-cooked or canned)

Sour cream, optional

Cilantro leaves, optional

In large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat and sauté onions until soft, about 5-6 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté just until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

Add carrots and sauté another 2-3 minutes, then add the zucchini and corn for another 2-3 minutes. Keep heat at medium high and add red wine. Top with spinach and reduce heat when spinach has wilted.

Stir in the veggie broth and powder, cumin seeds, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, tomato paste and pinto beans. Return heat to medium high until soup begins to softly boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Add a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro leaves.

Serve with crusty bread or rolls and a side salad. It’s also fun to top with corn tortilla strips!



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