Monday 12 January 2009

Blend-Ahead, Deeply Delicious Spicy Mince, Bean and Tomato Soup

Blend-Ahead, Deeply Delicious Spicy Mince,  Bean and Tomato Soup
Blend-Ahead, Deeply Delicious Spicy Mince, Bean and Tomato Soup
This is a great recipe for feeding a hungry horde of teens on a shoestring, because it uses only 500 g of lean mince and is thickened with nutritious (but cunningly concealed) tinned beans, which are the perfect fibre and energy food for teens.

If you're a vegetarian, leave out the mince - it's just as good without it. It's called Blend-Ahead because it's puréed before it's cooked.

There are a lot of ingredients, and a longish cooking time, but the soup takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. Oh, and did I mention that it is delicious and addictive? I've made it three times this week.

Blend-Ahead Spicy Mince, Bean and Tomato Soup

2 Tbsp (30 ml) vegetable oil
3 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
500 g lean minced beef
6 large, ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tin good tinned tomatoes, and their juice
3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tin butter or kidney beans, and their liquid (see notes)
1 tin baked beans in tomato sauce
2 Tbsp (30 ml) mild curry powder
2 Tbsp (30 ml) powdered cumin
1 Tbsp (15 ml) powdered coriander
1 tsp (5 ml) Tabasco sauce
1 tsp (5 ml) chilli powder [optional; to taste]
4 Tbsp (60 ml) tomato sauce [ketchup] or 30 ml (2 Tbsp) tomato paste
1.25 litres (5 cups) vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
200 ml coconut milk

To serve:
a dollop of plain white yoghurt, chopped coriander and a few dabs of olive oil, plus anything else you fancy: grated cheddar, chopped spring onions, fresh green chillies, etc.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Put the onions in the goblet of a liquidizer fitted with a metal blade and whiz until very finely chopped. Fry the onions in the oil until they are softened and beginning to turn golden.

Turn up the heat and add the mince, stirring with a fork to break up any lumps. While the mince is browning, put the tomatoes, the tin of tomatoes, the garlic and the tinned beans and their liquid into the liquidiser. Process until fine.

Tip the cooked mince and onions into a metal sieve set over a bowl and press down with a fork to drain off excess fat. Now tip them back into the pot and add the ingredients you've just liquidised. Add all the remaining ingredients, except for the coconut milk, and use a balloon whisk to combine everything and break up any stubborn lumps of beef.

Bring to the boil, and then immediately turn down the heat. Cook over a moderate to low heat for about an hour and a half, stirring now and then to prevent sticking, and skimming off the foam as it rises. If the soup seems too thick, add a little more stock or water to thin it down. It's important not to rush the cooking: the beef should melt into tender granules and the soup needs time to thicken. Stir in the coconut milk and serve very hot, with the cool and crunchy toppings.

Serves eight.

Cook's Notes:

- Any tinned bean and its juice will do, but this is my favourite combination
- Add a tin of sweetcorn kernels or chickpeas, or lentils, if you'd like to add even more bulk.
- You can use an equal quantity of tinned tomatoes instead of fresh ones, but the flavour somehow isn't the same.
- You can also use dried beans in this recipe, but you will need to soak them and boil them in advance. Remember not to add any salt to the boiling water, which will toughen the beans.

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