Facebook-fan Jaime pointed out that January is National Soup Month here in the US, so I thought I’d help kickstart the celebrations with this lovely new soup I created last week.
If you’re busy like me, or not really a fan of cooking (but great at basic assemblage of food), you’ll love my Southwestern Chowder. It relies on boxed soup as a base, with simple additions that really turn it into something special. Serve it with greens and some cornbread muffins and you have a fantastic meal in about 30 minutes.
Can I tell you my dirty little kitchen secret? Shredded frozen hash brown potatoes (the kind that are just potatoes). Not only do I make hash browns (with loads of garlic and greens mixed in!) about 3 times a week, I use these in soups when I’m in a hurry, in casseroles, and have even been known to heat them in a bit of water and mash them with a knob of butter. They don’t make the best mashed potatoes in the world, but they are passable to a picky preschooler’s palate.
I apologize in advance for those of my readers who don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby. My romance with TJ’s has been slow to heat up, but since adding Kid #2 and finding it increasingly difficult to multi-multi-task in the kitchen (ie: simultaneously oversee an art project, chop and prep for supper, and spoon-feed the baby - who is hanging onto my knees as crutches for her walking practice) all on months of severe chronic sleep deprivation…I’ve begun to see the charm!
Navigating Trader Joe’s can be tricky, because alongside all the delightful all natural, organic, fewer-than-6-and-all-pronounceable-ingredients, there are things like chocolate covered anything/everythings, lemon curd in a jar, interesting but terribly high calorie ethnic-style “nearly-made” foods, and all manner of fun and inexpensive wines and cheeses. You have to really discipline yourself to stick with the basics. I have a growing list of staples that I get at Trader Joe’s, and the Roasted Corn and Poblano Soup that serves as the base for this recipe is becoming a fast favorite.
2 boxes of TJ’s Roasted Corn and Poblano Soup (if you don’t have Trader Joe’s, this might be similar enough.)
1+ c frozen corn kernels (canned or fresh work fine as well)
2+ c shredded frozen hash browns (cubed fresh is fine of course; they will just take longer to cook!)
1+ can black beans
1+ red pepper, chopped fine
Juice of 1 lime
4-5+ green onions, chopped (reserve some green bits for garnish if you like)
3+ Tbs. cilantro, for garnish
Spray the bottom of a 6-quart stock pot with oil. Heat and add the green onions and red pepper - saute until tender.
Toss in the corn kernels and black beans in; give them a stir.
Add the potatoes and both containers of soup.
Bring to a boil and cook until everything is tender and warmed through. Add lime juice to taste.
Serve in bowls with green onion tops and cilantro as garnish. I bet a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheese, or some salsa fresca would also be great!
Note: If you like a thicker soup, by all means increase the quantity of the additions! This recipe makes a sort of 50-50 soup to chunks ratio; if you heed the little plus signs in the ingredient list (just be brave and eyeball it!), you’ll end up with a chunkier, heartier soup.