Mexican flavors spark soup-and-sandwich duo

Chicago TribuneJanuary 28, 2014 

A grilled cheese sandwich paired with a bowl of hot soup is such an iconic meal that it follows us from childhood into adulthood.

As grown-ups, though, we might opt for more complex flavors than a simple tomato and cheddar combo. This version leans to Mexico, with an earthy bean soup and, standing in for the sandwich, a spicy cheese and roasted poblano quesadilla. Yet at its heart, the meal remains that long-remembered duo, which is comforting and, bonus, super-easy to pull together.

Black Bean Soup and Quesadillas

4 strips bacon, diced

1 white onion, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 can (29 ounces) black beans, drained, rinsed

3 cups chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (or other oregano)

4 flour tortillas, 6 inches in diameter

1 cup or more grated Chihuahua cheese, or other good melting cheese

2 poblano chilies, roasted, peeled, cut in thin strips

Fresh cilantro, chopped

Crema or sour cream

1 lime, quartered

COOK bacon in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp; transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

ADD onion and red pepper to the pan; cook in bacon fat until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add beans, chicken broth and oregano; heat over medium-low until soup is hot, about 10 minutes. Stir in reserved bacon.

PLACE 2 tortillas on a flat surface; sprinkle with the cheese. Divide poblanos over the tops. Cover with remaining 2 tortillas. Cook in a skillet or on a griddle over medium heat, flipping once, until cheese melts and tortillas brown slightly, about 2 minutes per side. Cut each quesadilla in quarters.

DIVIDE soup among 4 serving bowls; top with the cilantro and a dollop of crema or sour cream. Serve with quesadillas alongside, passing the lime quarters for squirting into soup.

Yield: 4 servings.

Per serving: 432 calories, 14 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 37 mg cholesterol, 53 g carbohydrates, 24 g protein, 1,245 mg sodium, 12 g fiber

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