Bean Soup in 20 Minutes

Recycled leftovers can be delicious time savers. This week, however, we recycle a whole recipe – using its ingredients and flavors in a unique way.

In need of a quick dish, three-bean salad immediately came to mind. But, since the day was cold and blustery, more than any salad, what I really wanted was a hearty hot soup for dinner. Faced with a busy schedule and limited time in the kitchen, the day’s constraints seemed to put soup-making out of the question. Or did they?

Three-bean salad essentially requires opening three cans of beans, chopping up an onion, some celery or a pepper, and tossing together a quick dressing. If I could figure out a way to cook soup as speedily, I’d be in business.

The answer: Adding more canned ingredients. Along with the makings for three-bean salad, I reached for a can of tomatoes and a carton of chicken broth. Recalling a tangy tortilla soup that I like, I then amped up the dish by adding fresh cilantro plus some dried herbs and spice. (Forget about using dried cilantro – it’s less flavorful than cardboard).

Because most of these ingredients were cooked during the canning process, to complete this soup, I needed only to bring it to a quick boil. But a problem arose: Without a slow simmer, the flavors wouldn’t have time to fully meld and intensify. The fix? I made the soup first thing in the morning, let it cool and then refrigerated it until dinnertime.

To add even more flavor, I tossed corn chips into my bowl before ladling in the hot soup and garnished it with a lime wedge. The lime juice, added right before you dig in, brightens the dish and pulls all the soup’s flavors together.

When served, no one will believe this soup, nearly as dense as a stew, is a 20-minute dish.

Three Bean Soup - Makes 8 servings.

2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1/2 -1 tsp. ground chipotle chile
4 cups fat free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-oz.) can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-oz.) can red beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, chopped and divided
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
30 baked yellow corn chips (whole grain preferably)
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges

In large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and green pepper, 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until vegetables are tender-crisp, 2 minutes. Stir in cumin and chipotle and cook 1 minute, stirring.

Add broth, canned tomatoes with their liquid, beans, 1/2 cup of cilantro and dried oregano. Bring liquid to boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Let soup cool at least 30 minutes, then reheat before serving. Or, refrigerate cooled soup up to 4 days.

To serve, reheat soup and season to taste with salt and pepper. Crumble 5 corn chips each into bottom of 8 bowls. Ladle soup over chips. Garnish each bowl with remaining chopped cilantro and lime wedge. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 230 calories, 7 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 32 g carbohydrate, 10 g protein, 8 g dietary fiber, 480 mg sodium.

The Author:

“Something Different” is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $86 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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