Mexican Chilli Bean Soup

Mexican Chilli Bean Soup

As I was leafing through The Soup Book the other day and looking at recipes I have yet to cook, I spotted Angela Nilsen's recipe for Mexican chilli bean soup. I read the ingredients (onion, red pepper, garlic, minced beef, cumin, chilli powder, oregano, plum tomatoes, stock, kidney beans, etc) and it crossed my mind that I had made this soup before. I have gone through my records (i.e., my notes made in my copy of the book, this blog and my spreadsheet) and can't track it, but I still think I've made it. The cumin and oregano are interestingly different flavours to this household's usual chilli con carne recipe taken from our M&S cookery book which the spouse and I have owned since the 1980s (our edition was published in 1983, to be precise). Anyway, the only item I didn't have at home was the red pepper so I went down to Stephen's to buy one. The recipe specified a small pepper but there were only large ones on display. I decided to chance it as I didn't have the full amount of minced meat.

I "prepped" my ingredients and was ready to cook. I fried the onions, then added the pepper and garlic to the pan. The next step was to add the mince, but I overlooked that by mistake and put in the chilli powder, cumin and oregano first. Oops! I put in the mince and was just about to put in the tomato puree and tomatoes when the doorbell rang. Quick! Turn down the heat then go up to the front door and rush my visitor down to the kitchen. Tell him what I'm about and add those tomatoes and the stock. Now it was safe to put the lid on the pan and leave the mixture to simmer while I talked to the visitor.

The chilli bean soup was ready at around 6pm. I got out sour cream, grated some Cheddar cheese and put out tortilla chips. The spouse is away, so there was plenty of soup for myself and the two offspring. It was pretty tasty and more like a sloppy chilli con carne than a soup. As usual I had to guess that the younger offspring enjoyed his soup by assessing how little he left on his plate.

Bee Brief 

Last Saturday's Irish Times featured a couple of stories about bees:
Hands-on traditional skills and where to learn them (an item about how to learn about bee-keeping)
Spring has sprung - regular columnist Jane Powers was writing about the promise of colour in the spring as plants begin to bud and blossom. She mentions a few spring flowers that attract bees such as euphorbias, dandelions, crocuses and bluebells.

The first of these stories reminded me that Year of the Honeybee starts this coming weekend. So to mark it I took a look at the website of the Honeybee Conservancy. The site suggests rethinking your lawn, digging a flower bed and putting in flowering plants. After weeks if not months of dithering, I had already decided to do just that. My front garden now has a narrow border of young lavender plants!

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