Vibrant 3 Bean Soup – Mexican Style

I’ve used protein-enriched cannellini, black beans and red kidney beans for this easy to make Mexican 3 Bean Soup.  Some simple spicing can really elevate a humble supper or lunchtime meal into a dish that’s hearty and inviting.  To bring it up to date and add a zingy punch, I made a salsa that can be spooned on top just before serving. 

Mexican 3 Bean Soup Ingredients

Ok, confession time here.  I came up with this recipe for Mexican 3 Bean Soup whilst looking for inspiration in my cupboards for something to cook on a gloomy cold Monday. 

My weekend had been colourful and vibrant having visited a food festival and sampled different foods from around the world.  The highlight had been an area that had been dedicated to Mexican street food.  There was music playing, people dancing, colourful street art and the aroma from the various sellers was simply intoxicating. 

The Mexican culture have a reputation for food that is enticing with the use of vibrant colours, contrasting textures and screaming out with fresh zingy flavour.   

My gloomy Monday couldn’t have been any more of a contract.  I knew I needed something that would sing to me and take me back to the weekend.

Beans are a powerhouse of goodness and not to be overlooked as bland and boring.  They are a great source of plant-based protein and are also rich in fibre and B vitamins. 

I’ve selected black beans and red kidney beans mainly because they are synonymous with Mexican cuisine but also they were the beans I had in my store cupboard.  I’ve also used cannellini beans for their creamy texture and to add body and density to the soup. 

I’ve made this soup many times since and have used a myriad of bean combinations.  Use what you have in your store cupboard.  Pinto, butterbean, borlotti all taste good.

I’ve also opted for canned beans as quite honesty, I don’t always have time to soak and pre-cook beans and they still retain nutrition through the canning process.  In my view canned beans taste just as delicious and mean you’ll have a delicious meal in a fraction of time it takes to prepare dried beans.

I make a quick and easy salsa to spoon onto the soup just before serving.  It’s packed with the fresh flavourings of lime, chili and coriander all of which really hit the mark in terms of livening the dish up and maxing out on the Mexican street food vibe.

This would make a great Halloween party starter served in scooped out mini squash bowls with a side of tortilla chips.    

Mexican 3 Bean Soup Recipe Variations

Slow Cook 3 Bean Stew

If you wanted this dish to stretch further and also have something delicious to look forward to without the hassle of pot watching, you could use the ingredients to make a hearty stew.  Sauté the vegetables as I’ve done in the soup recipe and then transfer to your crock pot.  Add the tomato puree, beans and 300ml of the stock to the pot before cooking on the lowest setting of your crock pot for 4 hours.

Cook some brown rice and whip up the salsa just before serving.

When you’re ready to eat, spoon some rice into warmed bowls followed by a ladleful or two of the stew and let everyone help themselves to the salsa.

You could even warm some tortillas in the oven for a few minutes and serve these too.

Adding extra vegetables

To add extra vitamins and minerals and bulk the soup out further, you could add more vegetables.  Either add extra quantities of the peppers and squash or raid your fridge to add your favourites.  Courgettes and sweet potato would work well and could be added at the same time you add the squash.  Or, why not add some shredded spinach, cabbage  or kale 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time to add an extra boast of iron and fibre. 

More Delicious Soup and Bean Recipes

It’s fair to say I do have a slight obsession with soup, and beans for that matter.  Like my Easy 30-Minute Butter Bean Soup recipe or Tomato Rice Soup for that matter.  There is just something so humble yet heartwarming and satisfying about a huge bowl of steaming soup. 

Mexican 3 Bean Soup Recipe

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Mexican 3 Bean Soup

Course Soup
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 6

Equipment

  • Large heavy-based pan with lid

Ingredients

For the Mexican 3 bean soup:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 2 fresh red chilies deseeded and chopped
  • 1 each red and green pepper deseeded and cut into 2 cm chunks
  • Half a butternut squash (about 500g) deseeded and cut into 2 cm chunks
  • 1 tbsp hot smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 400 g can red kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 400 g can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 400 g can cannellini beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 litre Vegetable stock

For the Salsa:

  • 200 g fresh tomatoes finely diced
  • 1 small red onion peeled and finely diced
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander chopped (plus a few extra sprigs for garnish)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  • Pour the olive oil into a large heavy-based pan. Add the onion, garlic, chili and peppers and sauté over a low to medium heat. Allow to soften slightly but not brown (about 5 minutes).
  • Add the squash to the pan and cook for a further 4 minutes until the squash is just beginning to soften.
  • Add the spices and stir well. Allow to cook for a minute to release the flavour of the spices and to coat the vegetables. Don’t let the spices burn in the pan.
  • Add the tomato puree, beans and stock and stir well. Bring everything up to the boil before reducing the heat, popping on the lid and allowing to simmer for 20 minutes or until the squash is cooked through.
  • Meanwhile make the salsa.
  • Mix all salsa ingredients together in a bowl and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spoon into a serving bowl and reserve until the soup is ready.
  • When the soup is cooked, remove from the heat and ladle into serving bowls. Place a spoonful of the salsa on top and serve immediately.

Mexican 3 Bean Soup Ingredient Substitutes

Can I use dried beans or pulses rather than canned?

It’s perfectly fine to use dried beans or pulses rather than tinned beans.  Just remember that dried beans must be rinsed, soaked and then boiled according to the packet instructions before you use them as ingredients in the soup. 

I’ve tried both dried beans and canned beans and have found there to be very little difference in taste and overall result.  Just remember to follow the instructions on the packet before adding them to the soup.

Cannellini Bean Substitute:

Butterbeans, borlotti, pinto and black-eyed beans are all a perfectly acceptable alternative if you don’t have cannellini, red kidney beans or black beans in your cupboard.  They vary slightly in the amount of nutrients they offer but are all a good source of plant-protein and fibre. 

Tips:

– This Mexican 3 bean soup makes enough for 6 hearty portions.  Any leftovers of the soup or salsa can be refrigerated and stored (separately) in airtight containers for 2 days. 

– It’s fine to freeze the soup (not the salsa) in freezer safe containers or freezer bags for up to one month.  I tend to freeze mine in handy portion sized amounts that I label with the date.  This makes it easy to grab out what I need the night before I want to eat it.  Thaw thoroughly in the fridge overnight before reheating until piping hot.

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