Southwestern Mixed Vegetable Soup

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 40 minutes

Another vegetable soup with wide-ranging possibilities: you can make it fiery hot or mild, increase the amount of corn or black beans or omit either or both, use chayote in place of (or in addition to) the zucchini, omit the tomatillos, add a few strips of roasted poblano, and so on. But the basic recipe is pretty terrific.

2 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn

1 large onion, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 dried chipotle chile (optional)

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon fresh oregano or epazote leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large potato, peeled and roughly chopped

1 cup corn kernels (frozen are acceptable; don’t bother to thaw)

1 cup cooked black beans

3 tomatillos, husked and cut into chunks (or use canned tomatillos, drained)

1 medium tomato, cored and roughly chopped

1 medium or 2 small zucchini or summer squash, roughly chopped

6 cups vegetable stock or water

1/4 cup or more chopped fresh cilantro leaves

01 Put the oil in a large saucepan or casserole over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, chipotle, cumin, oregano, and some salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the vegetables along with some more salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are shiny, just a minute or so.

02 Add the stock, bring to a boil, and adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently. Cook until the vegetables are very tender (the potato will take the longest), 15 to 20 minutes. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve, garnished with the cilantro.

Variation

Southwestern Mixed Vegetable Soup with Avocado. Hot and cool, really nice: Peel, pit, and slice 2 large avocados and divide the flesh among 4 bowls. Ladle the soup over them. Garnish with cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.