Posts tagged ‘Soups’

February 15, 2012

Black Bean Soup with Chicken & Avocado Cream

Black Bean Soup with Chicken & Avocado Cream

When my husband and I were dating, we went to this great Tex Mex restaurant in West Hollywood called Marix Tex Mex Cafe. Big platters of sizzling fajitas, Baja fish tacos, fresh guacamole, awesome margaritas, all very California. We were dating bi-coastal for a few years, with me on the right coast and Alan on the left. Frequent weekend trips to Los Angeles were part of the deal. Dinner at Marix was one of our first Los Angeles dinners together. I’ll never forget driving to the restaurant, Alan said that Marix was a neighborhood favorite for Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt (they were still married at the time). I’m the quintessential tourist. Although I never bought one of those “maps to the stars” sold on the side of the road in LA, I have been known to get a little excited at the prospect of a celebrity sighting. So that was all I needed to hear to get me psyched about dinner. What this has to do with the black bean soup recipe… I have no idea. I guess making this Mexican soup brought back memories of our dinners at Marix. We’ve gone back a few times for those fajitas and margaritas – but alas, not a single good celebrity sighting when we’ve been there.

So here’s a healthy black bean and chicken soup recipe that has nothing to do with this story other than there’s some really good Mexican food to be had in California.


  • 1 1/2lb ground chicken
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, small dice
  • 1 poblano pepper, small dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 – 15oz cans black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 15oz can corn (or frozen kernels)
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 6 drops tabasco (more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 1tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 3 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • Cayenne pepper, pinch
  • Kosher salt & pepper to taste
  • Scant 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Add a little olive oil to a large stock pot on medium-high heat. Add the ground chicken and cook, stirring frequently. There shouldn’t be much fat released from the chicken as it cooks. If there is, drain a bit of the grease off.  Once the chicken is cooked, add the green and poblano peppers and onion. Cook until softened, then add the garlic. When garlic becomes fragrant, about a minute, add 1/2 of the black beans. Using the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher, mash the beans – this will help thicken the soup. Add the other half of the beans along with all the remaining ingredients except the cilantro. Stir well to combine and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer and cover, cooking for 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning and cook for an additional 30 min. Serve with a dollop of avocado cream and some chips on the side.

* You can omit the chicken and use vegetable stock to make this soup vegetarian. 

Avocado Cream


  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce from can of chipotle in adobo
  • Kosher salt & pepper to taste

Combine the yogurt and sour cream in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mash the avocado well. Add it to the yogurt mixture and whisk together until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and combine. You can use all sour cream if you prefer. Using the greek yogurt saves a fair amount of calories and it tastes delicious. I used non-fat greek yogurt, but use whatever you prefer. If you want this to be spicy, add more adobo sauce. Dollop on top of soup. This is also delicious served with salsa and chips.

January 12, 2012

Minestrone Soup with Fresh Pesto

Minestrone Soup with Fresh Pesto

When I want to feel like a fancy peasant, I make soup. I say fancy peasant because the reality is I’ve been too fortunate in life and I am too high maintenance to be a real peasant. But after reading those mammoth Ken Follett novels depicting the life of peasants from the 12th and 14th centuries, hunkering down at the end of a deplorable day to a bowl of soup and day-old bread, I think we all have a little peasant in us when we make a big pot of soup. I love those soup recipes with a long list of ingredients that look like a daunting task, but are almost as simple as making a sandwich. This week I decided to make a big pot of minestrone soup. Swirled right before serving with a dollop of homemade basil pesto, served with a hunk of good multi-grain baguette and a spread of our favorite cheeses.

In my recipe below, I used a few creamy yukon gold potatoes rather than pasta. Feel free to swap the yukons for a cup of so of your favorite small pasta shape. It is best to cook the pasta separately and add it to the bowls when served. This prevents the pasta from getting mushy. The addition of fresh pesto was fantastic, and added to the fresh flavor of the vegetables. If you don’t feel like making it yourself, there are some decent jarred pestos on the market. I should mention that making this pesto takes minutes with big results.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE MINESTRONE (Makes a big pot of soup)

  • 3 –  1/4″ slices pancetta, diced (about 1/3lb)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 15oz can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14oz can diced tomatoes
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • 6-8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 or so cups savoy cabbage, chopped
  • 4 small yukon gold potatoes, cut in wedges
  • 1″ chunk parmesan rind
  • 1 zucchini, 1″ dice
  • 6oz green beans, snipped
  • Kosher salt & pepper

Place a large stock pot on medium-high heat and pour a little olive oil in the bottom of the pan. Add the diced pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally until it begins to crisp up. Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the pancetta and cook, stirring until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the beans, diced tomatoes, chicken stock, thyme, bay leaves, cabbage, potatoes, and parmesan rind. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir, bring to a boil and immediately reduce to low heat. Simmer covered for one hour, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning about half way through.

After one hour, add the green beans and diced zucchini and cook for another 15-20 minutes.

Serve with a dollop of fresh pesto on top and a big hunk of fresh baguette on the side.

* You can easily make this soup vegetarian by omitting the pancetta and using vegetable stock. Remember to remove the bay leaves and parmesan rind before serving.


  • 1 clove of garlic, halved
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt & pepper to taste

Put the garlic and basil in a small food processor and blend. Add the olive oil and process again until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl, stir in the cheese, and season with salt and pepper. The parmesan is salty so you don’t need to add too much salt.

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