Luckily, yesterday I was fortunate to find myself with both some extra moments and some culinary motivation at the same time, so I grabbed my apron, knives & cutting board, and started roasting, peeling, chopping, dicing and slicing. Warning: this is the kind of recipe that takes a little time, but it is well worth every ounce of effort and time spent.
The original recipe was for Chicken-Tomatillo Soup - a friend from work turned me onto it - and was kind enough to pass along the recipe, which she got from the "Cafe Pasqual's Cookbook: Spirited Recipes from Santa Fe". I'd been wanting to adapt this recipe for vegetarians for quite some time. I wasn't quite sure how the recipe would fare using a mixture of water, vegetable stock and pinto beans in place of the chicken and chicken stock, but the results were pleasing - rich, bright, spicy, sweet and smokey. And exactly what I needed.
Making this soup in the morning with my kitchen full of sunlight was the perfect way to feed my soul, and I'm looking forward to having this soup feed my body all week long. I hope you'll enjoy it too.
Tomatillo Soup w/ Pinto Beans & Corn
2 T. olive oil
1 leek, finally chopped - you should have about 1 1/2 cups
3 ribs celery, finely diced - about 1 cup
6 cloves garlic, finely diced
3 dried red chiles - ancho or guajillo - soaked in warm water, rinsed, stemmed, seeded & diced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 T. smoked paprika
6 cups water or vegetable stock
10 tomatillos, husked removed, rinsed, and diced into bite sized pieces
2 T. tomato paste
2 cups fresh corn kernels
1 t. sugar
1. t. salt, or more to taste
3 - 4 cups whole pinto beans, preferably cooked from scratch
About 1/2 pound fresh mild green chiles, roasted, stemmed, peeled and diced - should measure around 1/2 cup - you can use pasilla, serrano, or jalapeno, or a combo.
Garnishes: squeeze of lime, chopped cilantro or italian parsley, crumbled cotija or feta cheese
In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil until quite hot. Add the leek, celery, garlic and dried chiles, and saute' for 5 minutes or so. Stir in the cumin and paprika. Add the water or stock, tomatillos, tomato paste, corn, sugar, salt and green chiles, followed by the pinto beans and the roasted green chiles. Bring to a boil and reduce to a mild simmer, and let it simmer and cook down for a good 45 minutes or so, until the tomatillos have cooked down a bit. By this point you should have a nice, rich broth that's good enough to slurp on its own, but with lots of chunky bites of peppers, tomatillos, beans and corn. I'm telling you, this is good stuff! Ladle it into a bowl, squeeze a bit of lime over it, add a handful of your herbs and a little sprinkling of cheese, and you'll be in heaven, and so will your friends. This will feed a crowd! It's good for about 8 servings, so go ahead & throw yourself a dinner party. Your friends will thank you!