This Mexican-inspired black bean and corn nacho soup is a crowd pleasing family meal with all the familiar flavours of a plate of nachos, but in soup form.
It's mid-winter here in New Zealand, we've just passed winter solstice and while we may be on the up now, the days are still short and the mornings icy cold.
It's soup weather for sure, which for me is winter's silver lining. I love soup for its cozy comfort, of course, but also for its health supporting ability to absorb a ton of vegetables and plant protein like beans and lentils. Soups are such an easy way to feed the family healthy meals they actually enjoy, and I find myself making 2-3 soups a week at this time of year.
One of our new favourites snuck up on me by chance. We were low on fresh veg but I still wanted soup, so turned to the store cupboard to see what I could do with cans. A Mexican-inspired beany tomato soup was the result.
Vegan nacho soup
Fragrant with oregano, cumin and coriander, the beany tomato soup was delicious - but needed something.
Inspired by the tortilla soups I've seen made by others, I threw a handful of broken corn chips into everyone's bowl and gave them a lime to squeeze over.
The salty crunch of the corn chips was just the thing to take this soup next level, and the whole family loved it.
Since then I've made this nacho soup a handful more times, added coriander leaves and a quick-soak lime cashew cream as a sour cream stand-in, and the soup has cemented itself on our winter meal rotation.
There are all the flavours of a plate of nachos here, but with more veg and less chips - a healthy win in my books.
Any bean will do
I used canned black beans here, because they're authentic to Mexican cuisine and we always have them in the cupboard.
I have also made this nacho soup with canned lentils though, and it was just as yummy, so use whatever beans or lentils you have on hand.
Beans cooked from scratch will have superior flavour and texture, but I rarely think ahead far enough to have them soaked, cooked and available when I need them (something to work on!).
Store cupboard vegetables
Sticking with the store cupboard sensibilities of this soup, I threw in some frozen corn kernels and chargrilled capsicum from a jar to boost the vegetable content. Use fresh if it's summer where you are.
For the soup:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 carrot peeled and finely chopped
- 1 red capsicum (fresh or chargrilled), finely chopped
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 1 can black beans drained
- ½ cup frozen corn
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp sugar
For the lime cashew cream:
- ½ cup raw cashews
- ⅓ cup water
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups corn chips
- 1-2 limes for squeezing
- 1 cup coriander leaves (cilantro) roughly chopped
- Hot sauce
- Get started by pouring very hot (but not boiling) water over the cashews and setting them aside to soak for 15-30 minutes.
- Heat olive oil in a deep saucepan and add chopped onions and garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add the carrot, capsicum, cumin, coriander, oregano, thyme and paprika, and cook for another few minutes until fragrant.
- Add the canned black beans and tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable stock and frozen corn, along with sugar and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring from time to time. The soup is ready when the vegetables are tender.
- While the soup is cooking, drain the cashews and blend them with water, lime juice and salt until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- To serve, ladle soup into bowls, top with a dollop of lime cashew cream, a handful of broken corn chips, a squeeze of lime, splash of hot sauce and some chopped coriander leaves.