I first prepared Pinto Bean Soup with Roasted Tomatoes 10 years ago for an article on Suite101.com. I drove up the Mormon Immigrant Trail in Eldorado National Forest to Pebble Canyon Road and found a spot to cook.
With Mick Martin's Blues Party blaring on the car radio, I worked my way through the recipe, took photographs for the article and enjoyed the clean air of the forest. In the next hour and one-half, I roasted three tomatoes with an onion and garlic in a 12-inch deep Dutch oven, a task that took twice the time in the confined space of the cast iron oven.
As the vegetables roasted, moisture sweated into the oven. Juices dancing about the bottom of the hot oven. Rich tomato juices commingled with moisture from the onion and garlic. Flavors intensified as the natural sugars caramelized. Around 45 minutes later, the roasted tomatoes were ready for the soup. The soup came together quickly once the tomatoes, onions and garlic took on a rich yellow-brown color.
I poured chicken broth, canned pinto beans, chili powder, cilantro and lemon juice into the Dutch oven and finished the soup. The flavor of roasted tomatoes was much deeper and more intense than fresh or canned tomatoes. Onions and garlic become rich, sweet and slightly smoky when roasted apart from tomatoes.
Pinto Bean Soup with Roasted Tomatoes is a great pantry soup. I prepared it at work today with ingredients that I typically stock in the storeroom and refrigerator. Kidney beans stood in for pinto beans in today's soup. Otherwise, I prepared the recipe as it's published.
PINTO BEAN SOUP WITH ROASTED TOMATOES
Kidney or red beans work for this recipe as well. Use a quality brand of chili powder and adjust the amount to suit your tolerance for heat. Start with the suggested amount and taste the soup while it simmers. If it's not spicy enough, add more chili powder and re-taste.
6 tomatoes, stemmed, cut into eighths
2 onions, peeled, cut into eighths
8 garlic cloves, whole, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chili powder (medium heat)
2 quarts chicken stock
2 quarts pinto beans, cooked or canned, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, minced
1/4 cup lemon juice Kosher salt, to taste Garnish
1 pint corn tortilla strips, fried, or tortilla chips
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, green onions or chives
Toss tomatoes, onions and garlic with oil in a bowl. Spread a half-sized sheet pan and roast in 475-degree convection oven until tender and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Turn tomato mixture into large pot and mash to break up tomatoes. Add chicken broth, beans and 1/2 cup of the cilantro. Heat to boiling, then reduce to simmer, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Mash coarsely with potato masher or immersible blender.
Add lemon juice and salt and season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Top each serving with tortilla strips or chips, sour cream and cilantro.
Serves 12 (10-ounce) or 15 (8-ounce) portions.
Adapted from a Idaho Bean Commission recipe.