When we think of making Mexican food at home, you may often turn to the classic tacos, burritos or quesadillas. But Mexican flavors punch up a bowl of soup like no other.
Whether you prefer chicken, beef or simply vegetables as the base, there is a Mexican soup worth making. With the spice cabinet of Mexico, dried chiles and fresh herbs like cilantro, the flavor possibilities are endless.
Chicken Tortilla Soup is probably the most popular Mexican soup that comes to mind. It’s bright and zesty with a silky, smooth texture, and most importantly, it’s comforting and delicious. It also doesn’t take too long to make. Chef Sara Salzinski shows you how to make this soup in this post.
Sopa Azteca is another popular tortilla soup. As blogger Biz Velatini shows in this post, it’s not too spicy, makes enough for a crowd, and you can add as many toppings as you can think of: fried tortilla strips, cilantro, Chihuahua cheese, sliced jalapeno – the sky’s the limit!
And then there are chilis that pay homage to Mexican flavors. Chef Quincy Bissic's Short Rib and Black Bean Chili includes five types of dried Mexican chiles. This one is a bit more time consuming and there are a few more steps than normal, but at the end you will have one of the most exciting flavorful, spicy, meaty, complex, warming chilis ever.
One of my most memorable chilis that includes Mexican flavors is the Pork Chile Verde with Poblanos and Hominy stew that made me a chili champion a few years ago. What makes this chili so great is the verde sauce and hominy. Hominy comes from yellow or white maize, also known as field corn. In Hispanic countries, hominy is ground to make masa, which is then used to make corn tortillas, arepas, pupusas and other dishes found in Latin and Central American cuisine. Learn more about hominy from Food Network's resource.
A lot of traditional Mexican soups can take hours to build the flavors. For example, a traditional Menudo includes beef tripe, chili, garlic, corn, and onion takes about 8 to 10 hours to cook. Here's where my favorite appliance, the Instant Pot, is a time saver.
The multi-cooker cuts down time cooking tough cuts of meat or dried beans, and there's no pre-soaking required. With just five minutes of prep and less than an hour cooking time, you can have cooked dried beans in a flavorful soup. Plus, I find that pressure cooking the beans results in tender beans with much better texture than canned beans.
There aren't photos of each step of this recipe because after you sauté the onions and peppers, you literally just dump everything into the Instant Pot, press a button and let it work its magic. It doesn't get any easier than that!
Instant Pot Black Bean Soup
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 small yellow onions, diced
2 small jalapenos or 1 large one, seeded and minced (use less if you want it to be less spicy)
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
14 oz (1 bag or about 2 1/2 cups) dry black beans
Salt and pepper
- Guacamole or sliced avocado
- Pico de Gallo
- Lime wedges
- Cilantro, chopped
- Tortilla chips
1. Turn the Instant Pot's sauté setting to high, and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onions and peppers and let them cook for about 5 minutes or until they soften, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Turn sauté function off.
2. Add the remaining ingredients to the Instant Pot and stir. Cover with the lid, making sure the vent is sealed. Cook on high pressure for 45 minutes. Once the timer goes off, allow a natural release for 10 minutes, then do a quick release. Stir the soup and test the beans for doneness, remove bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. You can puree half of the soup in the blender if you prefer a thicker texture. I didn't want to dirty my blender, so I just used a wooden spoon and pressed some of the beans against the walls of the pot until it reached my desired consistency. You could also use an immersion blender or potato masher for this. If serving immediately, allow the soup to cool for 15 minutes as it will thicken as it sits.
4. Top with desired garnishes.
If you want to expand your Mexican soup horizon, check out this list from Taste Atlas which rates Pozole as the number one soup in Mexico. It's usually served to crowds on special occasions and celebrations such as Christmas, weddings or birthdays and includes the hominy mentioned earlier. Other ingredients in the dish include a variety of herbs, spices, and meat such as pork, chicken, or seafood, depending on the region. Pozole can be served in a red, white, or green broth, symbolizing the colors of Mexico's flag.
We'll show you how to make the red version during our virtual workshop this Sunday, March 6 at 11am CST. You'll make:
- Pozole Rojo (Red Chili, Pork and Hominy Soup with Shaved Cabbage)
- Homemade Corn Tortillas
You'll learn how to make corn tortillas in that virtual class, but we also have an upcoming in-person class featuring corn and flour tortillas and turning them into tacos. Join us for Hands-On Vegetarian Feast: Tortillas and Tacos from Scratch on Saturday, March 12 at 11am at the Mart. You'll make:
- Chayote and Arugula Salad with Avocados, Pepitas and Lime Vinaigrette
- Roasted Carrot, Black Bean and Tofu Chorizo Tacos with Homemade Corn Tortillas
- Sautéed Parsnip, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tacos with Homemade Flour Tortillas
Making a Mexican soup is this week's challenge for our private Facebook group. Join the group, whip up a soup full of Mexican flavors and share it with the group. We get so inspired by your creations each week!