This recipe was shared with me many years ago by a friend who had the craziest schedule I’d ever witnessed. When she wasn’t running full speed ahead with her two middle-schoolers—to dance classes, soccer practice, music lessons, birthday parties, etc.—she was leading a high school youth group, teaching aerobics classes, volunteering at church and befriending every newcomer to the neighborhood. Her door was always open to visitors, even during the hectic holidays, and she always seemed to have something tasty to nibble on when someone appeared unexpectedly.
She didn’t have what I would call a passion for cooking, and certainly not much time, but she was incredibly skilled at getting a healthful and satisfying meal on the table in no time flat. This soup is one example, and when I pulled it out of my old recipe box the other day, I thought, “of course.” This is not an all-day-simmer kind of soup; rather, it leverages the already developed flavors of two key ingredients—jarred salsa and canned refried beans. Add some fresh onions and bell pepper, some veggie broth and your choice of chili beans and dinner is served.
The soup is every bit as comforting as any other homemade soup, but only takes 20 minutes, start to finish, which just happens to be the exact amount of time you need to throw a batch of Jiffy corn muffins into the oven (they’re perfect on the side).
What could be easier after a hectic day of shopping and errands during the busy holiday season?
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper (any color), chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Cumin, salt and pepper
1 cup prepared salsa from a jar* (see notes)
2 cans beans (mix and match; pinto, black, kidney, navy are all good here)
2 cups low-sodium vegetable (or chicken) broth
1 can refried beans
Corn muffins for serving (optional, but yummy)
Any kind of savory salsa will work here. It can be mild or spicy, green or red, thick or runny. If you have a can of Rotel tomatoes on hand, you could also substitute with that.
- Get your corn muffins in the oven, if you’re making them. This soup can be made while they are baking.
- Drain and rinse the canned beans.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a soup pot. Saute onion and pepper until softened. Add garlic and saute another minute or two. Season with cumin, salt and pepper.
- Increase heat to medium-high. Add canned beans, salsa and broth, and stir to combine. When mixture begins to boil, reduce heat to medium. Stir in the can of refried beans, taking time to swirl and blend it into the broth. Adjust seasonings to taste. Simmer until ready to serve.