Somewhere along the years, we stopped eating dinner together as a family. Busy, irregular schedules did that. There would rarely be more than two to eat dinner at the same time, and usually at least one of those would be going to the gym or for a run, hence not eating dinner but later. And if it was me and my sister that were at home, dinner would often be eaten watching TV (together at least).
For a longer time now, Saturdays have been the only times we gather together as a family to eat dinner each week. And those times, I'm sure, we all cherish. The time spent together, sharing everything that is pressing in our lives. That Saturday dinner is always a time of laughter as my sister keeps us entertained with her jokes and funny stories of her life. As we leave the table - after an hour or an hour and a half, usually - the sense of a family has been restored.
So nowadays, if it happens that all of us - or at least most of us - happen to be at home for dinner during the week, it is always somehow special. The same kind of special as when you were a child and Dad would come home early one afternoon and you got to spend extra time with him. The same kind of special as when you visited Grandpa and he snuck you an ice cream. The same kind of special as when you got to help Mom in the kitchen.
Now, please don't get confused with the name. The only reason this is called Mexican-style soup is that it has corn and kidney beans in it. And it's tomato-based. Somehow, those ingredients make this soup Mexican to me. I don't even know. Please, someone tell me you also do this.
Nevertheless, this is a very easy and tasty soup. It is very hearty but also packs in a bunch of vegetables, which I love. I made this soup with a can of diced tomatoes with spicy red pepper and I loved the kick it brought. This is definitely a keeper for those chilly evenings that are already around the corner.
Mexican-style Ground Beef Soup
Note: I used a can of diced tomatoes with spicy red pepper and loved the heat. However, if you are serving this to (small) children, I would recommend using plain diced tomatoes and adding a pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper for heat. We ate this soup with a good dollop of sour cream, which is not only delicious in the soup but also takes the edge off the heat.
1 (400g) can diced tomatoes *(see note)
4 cups beef or vegetable stock
5 to 6 medium potatoes
2 to 3 medium carrots
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves
400g ground beef
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
150g frozen corn
100g frozen, chopped green beans
1 cup red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
+ sour cream to serve
In a large pot, bring the diced tomatoes and stock with the basil and thyme to a boil. Meanwhile, peel the carrots and slice them. Put the carrots to the pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Put them to the pot with the carrots after the 10 minutes have passed.
Peel the onion and garlic cloves. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet and sauté the onion and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the ground beef and brown on high heat until evenly cooked. Season with the cumin and coriander, then add the frozen corn and green beans. Lower the heat to medium-low and sauté until the vegetables have heated through. Add the ground beef mixture to the pot and simmer until the potatoes and carrots have softened, about 10 to 20 minutes.
Once all the vegetables are cooked through, turn off the heat and add the kidney beans to the soup to warm through. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve with a good dollop of sour cream, if desired.