Get a little spicy, plus a little smoky this autumn! This is a radiant soup filled with delicious flavours and fresh, seasonal produce. Lots of beetroot and red peppers, this is exactly what I want to be eating right now. It’s adding a vibrant slice of Mexico to your autumn and all you’ll need are staples most of us have in our cupboards and some chioptle chillies/ chilli paste. More of that a little later…..
I wanted a soup that was hearty and sustaining, so we have lentils, colourful and healthy, so we have red peppers and beetroots, a little creamy, creme fraiche, a little crunchy, pepitas (or pumpkin seeds as we call them), finished with a sprinkle of fresh coriander and you’ve got a very tasty bowl indeed. I’d happily eat soups like this all day, every day, until next May, when things thaw out.
We’ve been getting frosty over here in Snowdonia, the first glimpse of snow and ice on the mountain tops, washing freezing on the line, that beautiful early morning frost that makes all the plants look like their draped in jewels. I love this time of year. Lots of sunshine still, so soup in the garden is also doable. I’m thinking winter BBQ’s are on this year! Why not? The first frosts always says to me, “Parsnips!” They’re always bettter after the first frost, as well as sloes.
I’m lucky to have travelled Mexico extensively, I drove around it for a while with some friends, from the border with Texas right down to Guatemala. It took about 6 months. I was in my 20’s and, as you can probably imagine, I had a good time! There is so much joy for living and eating in Mexico!!
I had no idea how good Mexican food was until my first few days wandering around Mexico City. I’d been working in fine dining style restaurants and was really into that way of doing things, but my first few tacos in Mexico blew my mind. I was hooked and a new way of approaching food dropped into my world. Sensational food didn’t need white table clothes and weighty price tags, it could be fast and furious on a street corner, or served in the back of taxi mid-traffic jam. Good food is everywhere in Mexico, it is hard to escape, and let’s face it, why would you want to escape it anyway!
I ate some INCREDIBLE soups in Mexico. If a soup can be life changing (if your soup was changed by your life, or vica versa, please let us know, we’d like to hear that story!) I had many in Mexcio. Things I’d never imangine, avocado is soups, soft cheeses in soups, garlic, nachos, smokiness, it really blew me away. Mexcian food is so rich and diverse, lots and lots of new dishes to explore.
Having said all of that, this soup is not a traditional Mexican recipe at all, but Chipotle chillies make anything taste Mexican to me. They were one of the many new flavours I discovered on my trip. The cumin in many Mexican dishes originally came from Spanish immigrants, who picked it up from North Africa via the Moors. I’m fascinated by the way that our food tells us a lot about our history, how our cultures developed over time. It is Day of the Dead tomorrow, this soup would be a perfect addition to the feast!
Chipotles are dried and smoked chillies, one of many varieities. I remember buying smoked chillies in markets, so many types, big and small, different colours and shades, all with distinct flavours. It was steep learning curve.
Chipotles start off as red jalapenos and are smoked and dried for days, coming out looking a little like the chilli version of a raisin. You can buy them in many ways, powder, flakes, dried whole, in cans or in a potent paste, as we use here. Chipotle’s are used in all kinds of marinades and stews, they give a subtle earthy, smokiness to dishes with a little kick of chilli. Adding one chipotle to a stew or soup can really mix things up. In the UK, they are normally found in paste-form, in little jars, that keep well in the fridge. I like to mix it into mayonnaise, dressings and generally use it as often as possible. I love the flavour. It’s very unique.
I am off to Spain soon, where they do some nice things with smoked chillies, but honestly, no one smokes chillies like Mexicans. Spanish chillies are very mild, they hardly tickle, Mexican chillies however, they can melt things, or just add a lovely spiciness to dishes.
Get Your Beet On!
So get your beet on, gather some lovely veggies and have fun with this soup. Beetroots are the most outrageous roots and I think we underuse them in the UK. The colours, flavours and awesome nutrition (see below) they bring to our table are always very welcome.
Please let us know if you like the recipe, enjoy Mexican food, or anything else really in the comments below. If you try out the soup, why not share your kitchen creation with us all over on Facebook, our cooking group is here.
Enjoy this beautiful time of year (in Australia it’s spring right!?!)
More soups and hearty, healthy, delicious vegan recipes for everyone coming soon…..
If you love your smokiness, add a little more chipotle, or add smoked paprika (same time as the cinnamon) for a smoky, but less spicy soup.
No red peppers, any pepper will work fine.
Same goes for the pumpkin seeds, any toasted seed or nut would be nice here, but pumpkin seeds (pepitas) are used quite a lot in Mexican cooking.
In you’re getting beetroots with their leaves on (congratulations!), you can cut them off, wash them and stir them in at the end of cooking, just before serving. You may also like to do this with spinach, kale or any other greens. Adding greens to dishes can never be a bad thing.
Beetroot, Red Pepper and Chipotle Soup
The Bits – For 4-6 bowls
550g beets, roughly 3 medium beetroots (diced)
1 red pepper (diced)
1 medium onion (diced)
200g red lentils (rinsed and drained)
2 teas cumin seeds
1 1/2 teas oregano
1/2 teas cinnamon
3 tbs tomato puree
1 ltr light vegetable stock/ hot water
3-5 teas chipotle puree
Toasted pumpkin seeds
Vegan creme fraiche
Freshly Chopped Coriander
In a large saucepan, add 1/2 tbs cooking oil and warm on medium high heat. Add the cumin seeds, stir and fry for a minute, then all the onions, peppers and 1 teas sea salt. Fry until soft and slightly caramelised, 5 minutes will do.
Add the lentils, beetroots, oregano, ground cinnamon and tomato puree. Then pour over the vegetable stock and bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and leave to cook for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Allow to cool slightly and blend using a stick blender or pour into a blender and blitz until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper, adding more chipotle if you like.
Top with toasted pumpkin seeds, creme fraiche/ single vegan cream, chillies and coriander.
Beetroot is a stunning root in more ways than one. Besides the amazing flavours and colours, we’re talking about a contender for the healthiest veg ever! It’s well up there.
Packed with anti-oxidants, plenty of fibre, it is very good for our digestion, and also contains plenty of minerals. Beetroot juice is now drank by many atheletes to improve performance. We love beetroots mixed into juices or smooties with things like apples and carrots. What an amazing way to start the day!