Vegan Black Bean Soup
While this vegan soup tastes delicious on its own (think creamy, tangy, sweet and smokey), it's really all about the toppings here. Crispy homemade tortilla chips, smooth avocado, tangy yoghurt and pickled onions make for a party in every spoonful. I know it might sound too good to be true, but it also only takes around thirty minutes to pull together and is extremely adaptable to whatever you have in the cupboard.
This might be a sweeping statement, but I believe creamy, velvety and flavourful soups rely on a very simple formula (that sounds a lot more complex than it really is). By formula I really just mean the right balance flavour base (onion, garlic, spice, tomato paste etc.), of starches (sweet potato), of extras (beans/pulses) and of liquid. That's good news because it means most soups can just be adapted to what you have on hand in similar amounts. In this case, if you don't have any onions on hand, you can use shallots or leeks. If you don't have sweet potatoes, you can use other starchy vegetables like pumpkin, butternut squash or regular potatoes and if you don't have black or adzuki beans, you can sub them for kidney beans or pinto beans. Of course, the flavour might differ slightly from the original recipe but it will still be delicious and really, rules are there to be broken. If you're changing a large portion of the recipe, make sure you taste for seasoning and adjust the soup - adding more acidity, salt, pepper where you see fit.
You can also adjust the toppings based on what you have on hand and what you're in the mood for. If you don't want to turn the oven on, feel free to use ready-made tortillas chips. If you're out of tortillas, feel free to use left over pitta bread. If you don't have any avocado, top the soup with some corn, chargrilled or plain. If you don't like pickled onions, you can sub them for some pico de gallo for that pop of acidity and freshness, or you can leave it out entirely.
2 tbsp olive oil
200g red onion (one large), chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
50g tomato paste
200g sweet potato (one medium), cubed
1 x 400g tin black or adzuki beans, drained and rinsed
700ml vegetable stock or water
¼ - ½ tsp salt
½ lime, juiced
Freshly ground pepper
2 flour or corn tortillas
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp salt
1 avocado, cubed
Plant based plain yoghurt
Plant based cheddar cheese, crumbled (optional)
Pickled onions (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180˚C.
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for 6-8 minutes, until translucent. Add the minced garlic and a pinch of salt, and sauté for 4-5 more minutes.
Stir in the cumin and let cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant, adding a tbsp of water to avoid sticking if necessary.
Add the tomato paste and cook it down for 2-3 minutes, until it has darkened in colour and is starting to stick to the bottom of the pan.
Add the sweet potato and beans and stir to coat in the tomato paste and onion. Add vegetable stock (or water). If using vegetable stock, add ¼ tsp salt and if using water, use ½ tsp. Simmer the soup for 15-20 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are soft and the broth has thickened.
While the soup is simmering, prepare the tortilla crackers. Use a knife or scissors to slice the tortillas into rough squares and transfer to a baking dish. Toss in olive oil and salt. Bake for 12-14 minutes, stirring halfway through, until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Transfer half of the soup into a blender, and blend on high speed for 1-2 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Stir the pureed soup back into the pot, adding an extra 100ml water if necessary to loosen the soup up. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat.
Stir in the lime juice and a sprinkle of black pepper. Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste. Divide amongst bowls and serve topped with a handful of tortilla chips, pickled onions, avocado, yoghurt and crumbled cheese.
by Valentina Concordia
Valentina is our Food Creative, who dreams up our tasty dishes and recipes for our social channels. She has loads of experience cooking up a storm in Italian kitchens, so it’s no surprise she can’t live without good-quality olive oil (don’t come between her and her olive oil) and fresh pasta.