Spicy chilies, cayenne, and tomatoes add a zing to soft and creamy white beans and potatoes. This festive and warming soup packs a punch of protein, vitamins, fiber, and other essential nutrients. It’s not very time-consuming at all to make a nice big pot, for yourself, for company, or for portioning and freezing for later.
Research suggests chilies were first domesticated in Mexico several thousand years ago. Now we see chili peppers in recipes from all over the world—they’ve travelled long distances because they are so spectacular. The green chilies used in this recipe are not very spicy. A quick Internet search for “Scoville Heat Units” or “SHU” will provide a full list of peppers and their intensities. You may then be led to accounts of people eating the spiciest of peppers, which makes for an entertaining read.
Green Chili White Bean Soup
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, medium diced
2 (4 ounce) cans diced green chilies
1 jalapeno pepper, small diced
1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic
3/4 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 large, ripe red tomatoes, medium diced
3 medium red potatoes, medium diced
6 cups vegetable stock
2 (15 ounce) cans white beans, rinsed and drained (navy, great northern, or cannellini)
1 bay leaf
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 large handful chopped fresh spinach leaves
Freshly chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)
Organic sour cream (optional)
- Heat olive oil in a medium saucepot, and add diced onions. Lower heat slightly and let the onions begin to soften until translucent (about 5 minutes).
- Add green chilies, jalapeno, garlic, and cayenne to the pot and sauté about five minutes. (Stir often and, if things are sticking or seem like they might burn, add a little water to the bottom of the pot. The goal is to avoid browning).
- Add tomatoes and red potatoes, stirring as needed, for about 3 minutes.
- Add the vegetable stock, beans, and bay leaf. Cook over medium heat until the soup comes to a boil, then lower to a simmer. As the potatoes begin to cook through, they will thicken the broth.
- Spoon off any oil/foam that forms at the top of the pot, and discard. After 10 minutes or so (this depends on how big your diced potatoes are), check a potato and see if it’s soft. Once the potatoes are soft, the soup is ready.
- Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste. If you want more heat, another dash of cayenne can be added. (Better to start with less and add more later!)
- Stir in the fresh spinach. It will wilt in the heat of the soup.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro and a spoonful of organic sour cream, if desired.
- Green Chili White Bean and Chicken Soup. Add even more protein to this soup. Roast chicken separately in the oven, then shred and add to the soup when it’s just about finished. Swap the vegetable stock for chicken stock.
- Green Chili Black Bean Soup. Add some diced bell peppers, diced celery, and black beans instead of white beans. Serve over white rice. Yum!
- Kid-Friendly (less spicy) Green Chili White Bean Soup. Omit cayenne and jalapeno. When shopping for green chilies, make sure to select a can of “mild”—some come in both mild and hot. Add alphabet pasta or little pasta stars into the soup for extra fun.
Wear gloves, if you have them at hand, when dicing the jalapeno. This will keep your hands from getting spicy and peppery, and when you subconsciously rub your eye an hour later, you won’t get stung! Another tip: Search for BPA-free canned food brands. A quick Google search will provide lists of companies that offer BPA-free cans.
Beans provide protein and fiber, aiding the digestive system. Dark, leafy greens boast vitamins and nutrients, and the spinach in this recipe adds iron. Because spinach contains oxalic acid, which actually inhibits your body’s ability to absorb this iron, I have added tomatoes and potatoes, which are known to aid the body in iron absorption. This soup’s spicy broth helps clear the sinuses and warms you up on a cold day.
I believe grocery stores should sell fresh herbs in smaller bunches; in fact, I’m on the verge of writing up a business plan for a little kiosk called “Buy A Sprig” for folks who need just a little. Especially cilantro—many recipes do not require a huge bunch of cilantro the size of a head of lettuce. One trick I learned while working in a health food store is to treat bunches of fresh herbs like a bouquet. Add a bit of cold water to a sturdy glass or container. Chop about an inch off the bottom of the stems, and set the herbs in the container. I have kept bunches of herbs in my fridge for weeks. This method also works for re-invigorating wilted bunches of herbs.