“That dip is good enough to eat with a SPOON!”
Ever said that about something into which you’re only supposed to dip carrots or chips?
This salsa soup recipe is a way to cut out the middleman and have an easy starter for Mexican night. While you’re finishing up the homemade tortillas, or better yet, while one of the spicy casseroles from Better Than a Box is baking, the family can sit down and have some nourishing homemade stock and vegetables before digging into the main course.
The salsa soup is a very simple, meatless soup meant to be served as a “starter soup,” a pretty neat technique for getting healthy foods in first. Particularly if you have young children who might not be huge fans of soup (or vegetables, or both), serve the soup first with a few toppings and no chips (or very few).
You’ll be amazed at how the combination of genuine healthy hunger and pureed vegetables that they can’t see to identify or pick out works to get even picky eaters to the bottom of the bowl. (Important note: This strategy will not work if you allow your kids to eat within an hour of dinner. Say, “The kitchen is closed,” starting by 4:00 or 4:30.)
This post is sponsored by Real Salt, because any soup – but especially simple purees – are only as good as the perfection of the amount of salt in the stock. Real Salt is an American-mined, unrefined sea salt that is our family’s favorite (we buy it by the 10-pound bucket). Real Salt has over 60 trace minerals (white table salt has two, whoop-de-doo), has been hidden from modern pollution for centuries (it’s from an underground ancient sea in Utah), and turns on its head the notion that salt is bad for you. Click HERE for a quick video explaining why unrefined salt is actually necessary for good health.
Recipe: Salsa “Starter” Soup
Note: Ingredients often use affiliate links to Amazon, Mountain Rose Herbs and Tropical Traditions, but obviously you should shop for the best price and try to keep your dollars local when you can.
- 1-2 Tbs. fat of your choice
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. Mexican oregano
- 1 tsp. salt
- dash cayenne
- 4 c. homemade chicken stock
- 2 c. diced tomatoes (1 can with juice)
- ¼ c. uncooked white rice or 2-4 c. cooked brown rice (optional)
- green pepper
- spicy peppers
- greens: kale, spinach, chard, etc.
- cubed avocado
- sour cream
- squeeze of lime
- fresh cilantro
- shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese
- diced red onion
- Melt fat (lard, butter, ghee, refined coconut oil) over medium heat. Saute the peppers and onions for 5-10 minutes until softened. Add garlic, cumin, oregano, salt and cayenne and stir for 1-2 minutes. Pour in stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil.
- If you are adding the rice, stir it into the boiling broth, reduce heat to a simmer and cook at least 15 minutes until the rice is tender. For grain-free OR to serve over already-cooked rice, just cook for 5 minutes to let the flavors blend together.
- Turn off the heat and blend partially (or completely) with an immersion blender.
- If using cooked rice, put a large spoonful of warm rice in each bowl and ladle the soup overtop.
- Serve with cheese, chopped fresh cilantro and/or some of the other ideas below.
* If the soup seems flat, add salt. Homemade stock often needs plenty of salt to magnify the flavors.
* Don't have Mexican oregano? You should buy some and use it for refried beans too (try Mountain Rose Herbs), but in the meantime, regular oregano is just fine.
* Don't have an immersion blender? You should buy one; they have so many handy, time-saving uses, but in the meantime, you can eat the soup without blending or wait for it to cool slightly, then carefully pour into a regular blender and puree gently. You may need to work in two batches depending on the size of your blender.
* Feel free to use a good vegetable broth instead of chicken stock if you need a totally meatless dish. If you're making your own stock, you might want to include plenty of garlic and maybe even some peppers.
* It's the perfect opportunity to use the “bottom of the bag” chips (tortilla chips). You can even save the crumbles in the freezer until you have a bunch and serve with this soup.
As with any simple soup, it’s really all about the toppings. You can keep it really basic with nothing on top and dip quesadillas or chips into it, or you can add multiple goodies on top, a squeeze of lime or some cheese and make it something really special.
Certainly one could also add chicken or taco meat and make it a whole meal, or pair with a taco salad for a warming winter upgrade. Yum!
If you like the idea of “vegetables first” on Mexican night, be sure to pin this recipe for later – and let me know if you try it out!
Check out the rest of the Nourishing Soup Series:
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post to Amazon from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. The post is sponsored by Real Salt, and at some point I’m sure I got a free sample, but we’ve been using it so long I barely remember. See my full disclosure statement here.