Fall is almost here, and with cooler temperatures and a glut of fresh vegetables from the garden, sausage and black bean enchilada soup is da bomb of an introduction to soup season!
For big time fans of soup (me!), soup season is technically year-round. It’s not so weird, really. People drink hot coffee all year long, regardless of the weather, right? And anyway there are summer-friendly soup staples like chilled gazpacho and avocado lemon soup. But I’ll step up and admit that, despite a deep love of soup and stews and other aromatic things made in a big, simmering pot, soup almost seems wasted in the summer, because its true brilliance is the bear-hug, full-body-and-soul-healing comfort it brings when the weather is cold and icky.
There’s just nothing better than curling your hands around a big, hot mug (anyone remember the Friends-style oversized latte mugs from the 90’s?) of soup at the end of a bone-chilling day of doing winter things like shoveling your driveway, and scraping stubborn ice from what feels like a football field’s worth of car windows. And slogging through slushy gray snow mountains in the parking lots of all the retail stores you have to visit.
But between now and then, we in the Northern hemisphere get a brief reprieve from both ridiculous summer heat and moody winter cold with Fall’s more temperate weather. The days become delightfully crisp and chilly — jeans! thick sweaters! — and hot soup for dinner is the cherry on the cake, rather than a life preserver to which we desperately cling in sub-zero temps.
When temperatures dipped into Fall territory the other week, I pounced: the first slow-simmered soup of the season sat on my Sunday stovetop and filled the house with savory vegetable aromas. With a side of garlic bread, sausage and black bean enchilada soup was a filling and comforting meal.
A surprise ingredient for enchilada soup
I named this soup “enchilada soup” not so much to make soup out of traditional enchiladas, but because I’m a big fan of using red enchilada sauce in vegetable-heavy soups, rather than just all tomatoes. I really dig an enchilada sauce that is made with a heavy dose of peppers and an accent of tomato paste — savory and tomatoey and peppery in all the best ways. Read the ingredient labels on the sauce can to see what a brand’s enchilada sauce is made of.
But. To add a lovely hint of real-thang enchiladas taste to the mix, I stir in a generous helping of masa harina (finely ground corn flour), which adds a noticeable but companionable flavor of corn tortillas to the soup. And, in my view, it lands the soup more firmly in the realm of Mexican cuisine.
Plus, it’s a super nice thickener — try it, I think you’ll like it!
Looking for a meal idea for Meatless Mondays? Use vegetarian sausage (try vegetarian chorizo) or crumbles and vegetarian broth, and serve with garlic bread. A most comforting evening meal!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 links uncooked sausage sliced thinly into half moons (try chorizo)
- 1/2 red onion chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 tablespoons masa harina optional
- 1 4 ounce can green chilis drained
- 10 ounces frozen corn
- 1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 10 ounce can red enchilada sauce
- 1 14 ounce can petite cut diced tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt temper with soup
- 1 lime sliced in half
- green onions
- sour cream
- Cotija cheese
- crunchy tortilla strips
Heat the oil in a 4 or 5 quart Dutch oven or soup pot over medium until shimmering. Add the sausage and cook until it begins to brown. Add the onions and bell pepper, and continuing cooking until the sausage has fully browned and the onions are translucent. Scootch the mixture aside and add a small glug of oil or broth to the cleared area. Spoon the paprika, chili powder, and cumin over the liquid and stir to create a paste. Let warm for 30 seconds or so; it should become fragrant. Sprinkle the masa harina (if using) over the sausage and onions, and stir everything together thoroughly.
Add the green chilis, corn, black beans, enchilada sauce, tomatoes and chicken broth and stir. Raise the heat to medium-high, and bring the soup to a low boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, maintaining a gentle simmer for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low to keep it safely warm until serving.
Meanwhile, spoon the Greek yogurt into a small bowl. When the soup has finished simmering, add a half cup of the soup liquid to the the Greek yogurt and stir well, then add the yogurt immediately to the soup pot and stir to combine. (This prevents the yogurt from "breaking" in the hot soup.) Squeeze half of the lime over the soup, stir, and taste. Add more lime, if desired, as well as salt (if needed).
If you have the time, make this soup ahead of time, cool, and stash in the refrigerator for the day, or overnight. This lets the flavors in the soup marry, and creates a very flavorful and thick soup.
To serve, ladle into bowls and top with your favorite garnishes.