BLACK BEAN-BACON-CHIPOTLE SOUP

Who doesn’t like black beans? Who doesn’t like bacon? Who doesn’t like those hot little chipotle peppers? Okay, some people don’t, but I believe most do. Combine the two in a relatively light soup and top with a dollop of sour cream. Total yum!

Black Bean-Bacon Soup

8 slices bacon, chopped

2 medium-sized red onions, chopped

2 cups thinly-sliced carrots (I used peeled baby carrots)

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

4 cups chicken broth

2-15 oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1-8 oz can tomato sauce

1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped

2 tsp dried oregano

1-1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried thyme

sea salt

ground black pepper

Optional toppings: chopped parsley, sour cream

1) To large soup pot over medium-high heat, add bacon and cook 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly crisp

2) Reduce heat to medium and add onion, carrot, and red bell pepper to soup pot; cook 5 minutes, stirring often; add chicken broth, black beans, tomato sauce, chipotle pepper, oregano, cumin, and thyme; cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally; season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with or without optional toppings

Servings: 4-6

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PORK AND CHIPOTLE BEAN NACHOS

It’s been too long since I made this recipe and, let me tell you, it’s been missed. What makes it stand out is the chipotle chiles and the tomato-avocado-lime topping. Super yum!

Pork and Chipotle Bean Nachos

4 slices turkey bacon

1 lb ground pork (or beef or chicken)

1 tsp sea salt, divided

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1-16 oz can fat-free refried beans (great alternative: 1-15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed)

3 tbsp water

3 tbsp fresh lime juice, divided

2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced

1 tsp chili powder

1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced

2 green onions, sliced thin

1 tbsp olive oil

5 cups tortilla chips

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese

Optional toppings: chopped cilantro, salsa, sour cream

1) Preheat oven to 500 degrees

2) In large skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon until crisp; remove from heat and chop fine

3) To same skillet over medium-high heat, add pork, 1/2 tsp salt (reserving 1/2 tsp), and pepper; cook 5-6 minutes until just cooked through; remove from heat, drain, and transfer to bowl; set aside

4) To same skillet over medium heat, add refried beans, water, 1 tbsp lime juice (reserving 2 tbsp), chipotle chiles, bacon, 1/2 tsp reserved salt, and chili powder; stirring often, cook 4-5 minutes until warmed through; remove from heat and set aside

5) To medium-sized bowl, add tomatoes, avocado, green onions, 2 tbsp reserved lime juice, and olive oil; gently mix to combine; set aside

6) Spread tortilla chips in large roasting pan and drop refried bean mix evenly over chips (you may need to add a bit more water to beans); scatter pork over beans, followed by cheese; bake in oven 5 minutes until cheese is nicely melted; remove from oven and evenly scatter tomato-avocado mixture over top; if you like, serve with optional toppings

Servings: 6-8 as an appetizer

SHRIMP AND CHIPOTLE-AVOCADO SANDWICH*

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. I am not a seafood fan. However, I do tolerate shrimp well–even enjoy it if it isn’t the least bit fishy. This was not fishy, especially as the shrimp were coated in lovely spices. And then there’s the over-the-top chipotle-avocado spread. Yum!

1 avocado (pitted, peeled, and diced)

2/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (canned)

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil

3/4 lb to 1 lb (depending on how shrimp-y you like it) medium shrimp (peeled, deveined, tails removed)

4 quality sub rolls (I used a quartered ciabatta loaf which, though it tasted terrific, lacked a back seam to ensure the sandwich made it from plate to mouth with the delicious filling intact)

1/2 cup grated 6-cheese italian blend (or some such)

1 cup torn lettuce

2 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin

1) In mixer or small food processor, blend avocado, mayonnaise, chipotle pepper, lime juice, and salt until smooth; set aside

1) In large bowl, mix cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and olive oil; add shrimp and toss to coat

3) In large skillet over medium heat, cook shrimp until pink and cooked through, 5-6 minutes

4) Assemble sandwiches as follows, dividing ingredients equally: spread chipotle-avocado sauce on top and bottom halves of each roll; place shrimp on bottom halves, followed by cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes; close up sandwich and serve

Makes: 4

*Adapted from a recipe pinned on Pinterest and tracked down to: http://www.lifesambrosia.com