Spicy Mexican Soup Recipe
Serves: 4 generously
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
- 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 small red onion, cut into 5mm dice
- 1 small brown onion, cut into 5mm dice
- 2 carrots, cut into 5 mm dice
- 3 stalks of celery, cut into 5 mm cubes
- 2 tablespoons of ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon of ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
- 1 kaffir lime leaf, finely grated
- 3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1-2 bell peppers, cut into 5mm cubes – a mix of any color you have on hand
- 750 ml vegetable broth or water
- 5 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro stems (leaves reserved)
- 200g frozen sweet corn or 1 200g can sweet corn, drained
- 5 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 100g grated cheddar
- 6-10 marinated jalapeños, chopped
- Sour cream, tortilla chips and lime wedges, for serving
- A handful of finely grated purple cabbage (optional)
Step 1: Use a good, heavy-bottomed pot or large saucepan to avoid scorching – you want to keep the flavors fresh and the vegetables lively enough. Heat over low heat and pour in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Start with the onions: remove them from the frying, and when they start to soften, add the carrots and celery and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Now add the spices and herbs, with a little extra oil to keep them from sticking, and stir another minute or two, being careful not to let them burn (add a little water if you have need to cool down a bit).
2nd step: Pour the tomatoes and peppers into the pan, then add the broth or water and bring to low heat. Then add the coriander stems, corn and spring onions. Let the soup simmer for about 5 minutes, then taste and add a little salt if needed. (You can make the soup here a few hours in advance and gently reheat it later.)
Step 3: A small downside to be aware of with this soup is that the ground spices can look quite grainy in the thin broth. But in my opinion, a hint of grain is a small price to pay for such a winter treat. Either way, the spices are going to sink to the bottom, so you can avoid the worst of the oatmeal by not scraping the bottom of the pan with your ladle, or at least serving your pickiest guests starting with the top layers.
Step 4: When you’re almost ready to serve, prepare the grated cheese, jalapeños, sour cream, tortilla chips and lime wedges. Pour a little hot soup into each large bowl, then sprinkle over the reserved cilantro leaves – and purple cabbage, if you use it (I add this at the end because cooking with the other vegetables makes the soup a brilliant shade of hippie purple, which sometimes settles on a strange gray blue / green…). Let your guests help themselves to all the delicious extras.
Pair wines like a pro:
Warming winter spices mixed with a lighter meal like soup require a juicy red 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 flavors of cherry and plum but is also fresh.
Finest Barbera d’Alba 2015, £ 9 Tesco