Let this hearty soup recipe bring a splash of colour and spice to your evening.
At this time of year, there are two things we need from our evening dinners: something to warm the cockles during the long winter nights, and a splash of vibrant, much needed colour to remind us that the entire world isn’t made up of a palette of grey. This hearty and healthy veggie soup hits all the right notes, combining a steam-up-your glasses culinary cuddle with the exuberant spicy zap of Mexican cuisine, which you can wash down with a margarita (or three).
Plus you can choose your own kaleidoscope of colour, using up whatever leftovers you might find in the vegetable drawer to make the spicy soup – all important as you claw your way to the end of a penniless month – to keep your spirits up and you healthily nourished until the first shoots (and paycheque) of spring.
This tasty Mexican inspired soup recipe below (along with wine pairing) is a taster from Special Guest by Annabel Crabb and Wendy Bell (RRP £20). You can buy the cookbook here. Enjoy!
Spicy Mexican Soup Recipe
Serves: 4 generously
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
- 2-3 tbsps olive oil
- 1 small red onion, cut into 5mm dice
- 1 small brown onion, cut into 5mm dice
- 2 carrots, cut into 5mm dice
- 3 celery stalks, cut into 5mm dice
- 2 tbsps ground cumin
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 2 tsps dried oregano
- 1 kaffir lime leaf, finely shredded
- 3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1-2 peppers, cut into 5mm dice – a mix of whatever colours you have to hand
- 750ml vegetable stock or water
- 5 tbsps finely chopped coriander stalks (leaves reserved)
- 200g frozen sweetcorn or 1 x 200g tin of sweetcorn, drained
- 5 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 100g grated cheddar
- 6-10 pickled jalapeños, chopped
- Sour cream, tortilla chips and lime wedges, to serve
- Handful of finely shredded purple cabbage (optional)
Step 1: Use a good heavy-based stockpot or large saucepan, to avoid burning – you want to keep the flavours fresh and the vegetables quite sprightly. Set it over a gentle heat and pour in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Start with the onions: get those frying away, and when they’re starting to soften, add the carrots and celery and cook for another 2–3 minutes, stirring frequently. Now add the spices and herbs, together with a bit of extra oil to prevent sticking, and stir for another minute or two, taking care not to let them burn (add a splash of water if you need to cool things down a little).
Step 2: Tip the tomatoes and peppers into the pan, then add the stock or water and bring to a low simmer. Next add the coriander stalks, corn and spring onions. Let the soup bubble away for about 5 minutes, then have a taste and add some salt if it needs it. (You can make the soup up to here a few hours ahead of time and gently reheat it later.)
Step 3: One small snag to be aware of with this soup is that the ground spices can feel quite gritty in the thin broth. But to my mind a hint of grit is a small price to pay for such a winter treat. In any case, the spices will sink to the bottom, and so you can avoid the worst of the grittiness by not scraping the bottom of the pan with your ladle, or at least serve your fussiest guests from the top layers first.
Step 4: When you’re almost ready to serve, get together the grated cheese, jalapeños, sour cream, tortilla chips and lime wedges. Ladle some hot soup into each large bowl, then sprinkle over the reserved coriander leaves – and the purple cabbage, if you are using it (I add this at the end because cooking it with the other vegetables turns the soup a bright shade of hippie violet, which sometimes settles down to a weird grey blue/green…). Let your guests help themselves to all the delicious extras.
Wine pair like a pro:
Winter warming spices folded into a lighter meal like soup calls for a red that’s juicy and not too heavy. Wine expert Jane Parkinson recommends the perfect pairing in the form of this Northern Italian classic, a Barbera, which has easy-going cherry and plum flavours yet it’s fresh too.
Finest Barbera d’Alba 2015, £9 Tesco
View more recipes from Stylist here.
Image: from Special Guest by Anna Crabb and Wendy Bell