Tortilla soup usually has chicken and lots of tomatoes, but black bean tortilla soup is full of black beans…and deliciousness. It’s topped with baked tortilla strips.
I try to do a few meatless meals a week for a lot of reasons. The most obvious? Meat is kind of expensive. The second is that a few years ago my doctor told me that my LDL (aka bad) cholesterol was borderline high and I freaked out a little bit. See, I’m the kind of person that likes to be good at everything, including cholesterol. Being 33 or however old I was at the time and having high(ish) cholesterol did not sit well with me. I love bacon and heavy cream and butter but I did not love having a cholesterol number that was almost too high (though my HDL was awesome, and that was a good thing). At that point I told Philip that I thought we should cut down on our meat intake and see what happened.
So, we jumped in feet-first. For a long time, we ate bacon on Saturday mornings and other meats when we went out to eat in a restaurant or at someone else’s house. I didn’t cut back one little bit on the amount of butter or heavy cream I used. The next time I had a physical? Cholesterol = normal. Now, I know that there are a lot of conflicting ideas about whether animal products actually contribute to high cholesterol, and I will admit that high cholesterol runs in my family…but I made one major dietary change and my numbers were well within ideal range. I’ll take it.
I love vegetarian cooking. It gets picked on a lot in the culinary world as being “less-than” cooking with meat, which is silly. I don’t buy all the stuff about meat being superior (though you guys know I love a burger). Vegetarian cooking takes creativity and skill, because vegetables don’t have the same flavor compounds as meat. Bringing out all the wonderful flavors in vegetables requires thought. And it’s totally worth it. I’ve found myself cooking more and more meat here lately and have realized that it’s because I’ve let myself get a little lazy about thinking of great ways to make vegetarian food the best it can be.
I probably won’t go back to the never-cooking-meat-except-Saturday-morning-bacon ways of my past, because I’ve realized that wasn’t the kind of balance that I want to have. This isn’t a vegetarian blog and I want to cook vegetables and meat and share them with you. However, I’m challenging myself to being a little more creative with my vegetarian cooking so I can share some great stuff with you and dispel the ridiculous myth that Southern food is meat-heavy.
It’s not Southern, but this black bean tortilla soup is absolutely delicious and your slow cooker and food processor do all of the heavy lifting for you. Enjoy!
Yield: 6 servings
20 minPrep Time:
8 hr, 20 Cook Time:
- 1 pound black beans, picked through, rinsed, and soaked
- 8 cups low-sodium chicken stock (use vegetable stock to make this completely vegetarian)
- 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 tomatoes, cored and quartered
- 1/2 jalapeño, seeded
- 1 chipotle and 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
- 2 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
- 8 corn tortillas, cut into strips 1/2 inch wide
- garnishes-shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado, chopped cilantro
- Drain the black beans and place in a 4-5 quart slow cooker. Add the chicken stock, half of the onion, 2 cloves of garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove the onions and garlic cloves.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the tortilla strips in a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until light brown. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.
- While the tortilla strips are baking, place the remaining onion quarters, garlic cloves, tomatoes, jalapeño, chipotle, and 1 teaspoon of the adobo in a food processor or blender and puree.
- Heat the remaining oil over high heat. Place the puree and 1/8 teaspoon of salt into the pan and sauté until dry and dark in color. Add to the black bean mixture and stir to combine. Cook for a few more minutes to heat through. Salt to taste. Add more adobo if you would like more heat.
- Serve the soup with tortilla strips and other garnishes as desired.