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Soup Sunday: Mexican bean soup with polenta dumplings

This is one of my favourite soups ever, and I’m not alone – with my friends requesting this soup ALL the time. The taco-seasoned chicken mince and cheesy polenta dumplings add some real weight, so if you’ve got any soup naysayers in your household, try this soup on them and watch them eat their words (and probably a second bowl full).

I love a good soup, especially one that is this easy to whip up – just throw a few canned vegetables together with a few other ingredients and let it bubble away. Another bonus, it’s easy on your wallet at only $15.70 for the whole pot, or $2.60 per serve. If you’re a bit wary of using canned vegetables, don’t be! They can be cheaper than fresh vegetables so buy them in bulk when they are on special and stock up your pantry because they have a long shelf life and very convenient to have on hand. Having a few extra cans in your cupboard makes adding extra veggies to your meals a whole lot easier. Try to go for the ‘salt-reduced’ or ‘no added salt’ varieties if they are available to keep your salt intake as low as possible.

I usually make a double batch of this soup when I make it because the leftovers taste amazing. If you leave it overnight the polenta dumplings soak up some of the liquid and it becomes more like a Mexican chicken stew. If you’ve eaten all of the dumplings on the first night, the leftover mince can even be used as a baked potato topping. If you prefer it as a soup, just add a bit of extra water when you are reheating it.

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Mexican Bean Soup with Polenta Dumplings

Serves 6

500g chicken mince

15g (half a packet) taco seasoning mix

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 sticks celery, chopped

2 x 400g canned diced tomatoes

2 salt-reduced chicken stock cubes

400g can of kidney beans

4Tbsp light sour cream, to serve

coriander, chopped, to serve

Polenta dumplings:

60g margarine

2/3C polenta

2/3C self-raising flour

1 egg

2Tbsp skim milk

120g light cheese

400g can of corn (salt-reduced)

1. Heat half of the oil in a large pot over medium heat and brown chicken mince for 3-4 minutes, using a wooden spoon to break up any lumps. Add taco seasoning and stir for a couple of minutes until combined. Transfer to a heatproof bowl while you prepare the rest of the soup.

2. To make the polenta dumplings: Rub margarine into flour and polenta until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in egg, cheese, milk and half the can of corn and combine to form a sticky dough.

3. Heat remaining oil in same pot and add onion, garlic and celery. Cook for 3-4 minutes until onion softens, then stir in canned tomatoes, stock cubes and 6 cups of boiling water. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Cool slightly and blend with a stick blender in the pot.

4. Return soup to the heat, add cooked mince, drained kidney beans and remaining corn and bring back to the boil. Gently drop teaspoons of polenta mixture into the hot soup, then let soup simmer until dumplings are cooked (around 15-20 minutes).

5. Serve soup with low-fat sour cream and coriander, making sure you get some dumplings in each bowl.

Nutrition info (per serve) - 2335kJ, 26g fat (10g saturated), 33g protein, 45g carbohydrates (10g sugars), 843mg sodium, 7g fibre, 3.2 vegetable serves. Cost = $2.62.

Why should you eat this? This soup is high in fibre thanks to the beans and high in protein thanks to the addition of chicken mince, so it will fill you up. It also provides 3.2 of your 5-6 vegetable serves for the day, so it is packed with nutrients. If you’re watching your weight, go easy on the polenta dumplings to help cut down on the kJ and fat. Even if you’re not watching your weight I’d suggest adding this to your monthly repertoire rather than your weekly one as it is a bit higher in fat and kJ compared to other soups.

Do you have a favourite soup? Share it in the comments below.

What do you think?