I have three very ripe avocados sitting on my kitchen counter that will shortly turn to mush. Why is it that when you buy avocados of differing ripeness, they still all get really soft on the same day? It is, I suppose, one of the great kitchen imponderables. I'm actually happy to eat avocados right out of the skin with a little bit of salt and lime juice, but I think my husband might look askance at me if that's what I served for lunch.
Rummaging through my pantry I found some kidney beans and a jar of dried chilies that my son left behind one day, so Mexican-flavored bean soup became the goal. I had absolutely no idea what these chilies were as they were packed in a glass jar which once held kefir yogurt. A quick Google search revealed that I had ancho chilies and aji amarillo chilies. Neither are hot, but they did add a lovely smokey flavor to the soup. This also gave me the opportunity to use some Piment d'Espelette which is red chili pepper powder that my daughter gave me for Christmas. She told me to use it sparingly because it's expensive! If you aren't lucky enough to have someone leave these ingredients in your pantry, I would suggest substituting some cayenne pepper and any old dried or fresh pepper you like. This soup is vegan.

Prep time: 30 minutes 

Total time: 45 minutes 

Yield: 2 servings

Bean Soup with Avocado Salsa


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Piment d'Espelette or cayenne pepper
  • 1 or 2 dried chilies, reconstituted
  • 1/2 sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 5 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • Dash salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • Sprinkle cilantro or parsley, chopped
  • Splash lime juice
Cooking directions
  1. Place dried chilies in a bowl and pour boiling water over them until they are covered. Set aside and allow them to reconstitute.
  2. In a large pot heat the olive oil until it shimmers. Add the onion and cook until it has softened, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the seeds from the chilies. Keep the soaking water in case you want to add some to the soup. Add the garlic, spices and reconstituted chilies. Stir and cook for another couple of minutes.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes and the broth or water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook until the sweet potatoes have begun to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the kidney beans, recover the pot and cook until the sweet potatoes are completely soft, about 10 minutes. With an immersion blender or regular blender, mix soup until it is the smoothness you want. I like my soup chunky, so I just whiz it a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. While the soup is cooking, place diced avocado in a small bowl. Add a bit of salt and some chopped cilantro or parsley. Add a splash of lime juice and mix it up.
  5. Ladle soup into bowls and spoon avocado mixture into the centre. Serve immediately.
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Recipe: Bean Soup with Avocado Salsa
Choose the right chilies and they'll add a lovely smokey flavor to this easy bean soup.