Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mexican Soup

Sonya was my best friend in high school and university. We started off as colleagues when we worked as youth centre leaders. Soon we were inseparable. She was there when I made my first forays into cooking. This cake (pictured below) was one of the first things either of us ever baked; it was a birthday cake for Glenn, our boss. (In his car he had a wooden figure called Calvin which we copied - you can see it at the top the cake.) This cake was a huge hit with our boss - he was so impressed!

Our later cooking experiments were not so successful. We cooked an elaborate meal for her boyfriend's parents. We made a cold strawberry soup to start, a spinach salad with strawberries, salmon with cilantro sauce, and a moist coconut cake. Everything was going smoothly until we pulled out the fish and her boyfriend's mother announced that she is allergic to salmon. In a panic, we started rooting around in the freezer and ended up serving her some rubbery scallops that we defrosted in the microwave. Fortunately her boyfriend's mother wasn't too offended and her boyfriend was charmed into proposing soon after.

Recently Sonya started a food blog. A few weeks ago she shared with me that she was making Mexican Soup for her family's dinner. I thought I would do the same. This unusual recipe includes a large handful of cheddar cheese and a chunk of cream cheese melted into the soup just before serving. This vegetarian soup is creamy and spicy; it's delicious served with cornbread with corn.

Mexican Soup
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special
serves 4 - 6

1 T vegetable oil
1 c chopped onion (about 1 small onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T ground coriander
1 T ground cumin (or cumin seeds)
1 t paprika
1/8 t dried thyme
1 c (50 g) chopped mushrooms
3 c (750 ml) vegetable stock
1 c (400 g can) chickpeas
1 c (400 g can) kidney beans
2 c (400 g can) chopped tomatoes with juice
1 c (145 g) fresh, frozen, or canned & drained corn kernels
1/2 c (110 g) cream cheese
1/2 c (60 g) grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 c (5 g) chopped cilantro (corianders) leaves

Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onions and garlic and cook gently until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the coriander, cumin, paprika, thyme, and mushroom. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring.

Combine 1 c (250 ml) stock and the chickpeas in a blender. Puree to a rough mixture.
Add to the pot, along with the rest of the stock and the kidney beans. Stir throughly to incorporate the spices.
Add the tomatoes and bring to a gentle simmer.

Add the cream cheese and cheddar and stir until they melt.
Remove from the heat. Add the cilantro leaves just before serving.

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