BY AINE CARLIN
I am hopelessly devoted to Mexican cuisine. Spice and citrus, texture and taste, colorful, vibrant and abundantly fresh- it really does have it all. I often try to remember what my life was like prior to discovering this most magnificent cuisine and worry that had I not spent two years in Chicago I would never has fully experienced everything Mexican food has to offer.
Believe it or not Chicago has a massive Mexican population (at 2.1 million it has the third largest in the US ) and we lived smack bang in the middle of a huge Mexican district. There were taco joints on every corner, two 24hr Mexican restaurants mere minutes from my house and even a little organic cafe around the corner with a Mexican Mama making fresh tortillas all the day long. Suffice to say it was Mexican Food nirvana and I took full advantage – at least twice a week!
Wait a second though; isn’t Mexican food heavily reliant on cheese, sour cream, meat and chicken stock? The short answer is yes, but that doesn’t mean to say you can’t work around that and create perfectly authentic vegan-friendly Mexican meals in your own kitchen. Because, above everything else, it is the spices, herbs and fantastically fresh vegetables that bring any Mexican dish alive. Otherwise you’re just eating bread, cheese and meat, right?
In my world Mexican food spells ‘Chipotle’. No, I’m not talking about the fast food place, I’m referring to that most wondrous smoked chili pepper that can be chopped, made into pastes or bought in powder form. As it’s quite difficult to obtain chipotle chilis here in the UK, I rely on the powder.Â If you’re lacking in the chipotle department, never worry, you can acquire a similar flavor by just using a little more paprika – just make sure it is the smoked variety. However, if you want to evoke that true Mexican flavor in this or any other Mexican inspired dish then you really should invest in a little jar of chipotle goodness.
This black bean soup is so velvety, thick and luscious and, unless you’re familiar with blended bean soups, unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. What a way to wow your guests at your Mexican-themed dinner party or do as I did and make it for lunch – it’s so quick and painless, you can afford to spoil yourself a little and get some Mexican action going on in your kitchen today.
Photos: Aine Carlin
Aine Carlin is a vegan blogger who specializes in vegan recipes. She also has a keen interest in vegan fashion and is currently training to be a stylist where she hopes to promote cruelty free clothing and beauty. You can find more of her vegan recipes and vegan friendly fashion over atÂ www.peasoupeats.com
For more great recipes from Aine, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)
1/2 sweet red pepper
1/2 red chili
11/2 cups of organic black beans
1 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp vegan vegetable bouillon powder
2 sprigs of thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Juice 1/2 lime
Few splashes of vegan fish free Worchester sauce
Salt and pepper
1/4 roughly chopped avocado
few sprigs of flat leaf parsley or coriander
spritz of lime
- Chop and deseed the red pepper and chili pepper into small pieces.
- Heat a little oil in a saucepan. Add the pepper, season with salt and pepper and lightly saute for a few minutes until it begins to soften. Stir frequently.
- Add the chopped chili, chipotle, cumin, paprika and stir to combine. Sweat for several minutes allowing the flavors of the spices to infuse.
- Drain and rinse the black beans and add to pan. Stir to coat the beans in all the spices, the thyme leaves, oregano and let it warm through before sprinkling in the vegetable bouillon and topping with water – you want the water to just cover the beans, as too much liquid will impair the texture.
- Splash in a few drops of Worchester sauce and bring it all to a gentle simmer.
- Transfer to a blender, add the lime juice and blitz until completely smooth. Return to pan and gently heat. Taste for seasoning.
- Serve with avocado, roughly chopped flat leaf parsley or coriander and a spritz of fresh lime.