Black Bean, Tomatillo, and Corn Soup

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Hearty soup of black beans, tomatillos, corn, and tomatoes, topped with avocado, lime, cilantro, and chipotle sour cream.

Black Bean, Tomatillo, and Corn Soup : The Wimpy Vegetarian

I was all set to go yesterday. I knew what I’d write about. The photo was ready – or well, as ready as it was going to be. A beautiful frittata I made last week with fresh peak-season veggies I’d made several times in my new frittata pan to get just right. I sat down at the computer, wrote up a post, attached the photo, and then couldn’t find my notes on the recipe itself.

I looked everywhere for those notes. When I have an idea of something I want to make, I take notes. I write down everything I do, from the ingredients to the order of the them, how they’re prepped, and how they’re added. Everything, in short, that can affect flavor and texture. Afterwards, I decide if something needs to be changed, something added, something eliminated for the next round. Every once in a while I get it right on the first or second try. Sometimes it takes weeks. I have a coffee mocha ice cream using coconut milk I’ve been working on for months. My husband and I tire of it, it slides to the back burner, and I pick it up again later with a fresh palate and perspective.

My problem (if I’m honest, one of many) is I don’t have a system for writing down those notes. Sometimes I use a notebook (one of at least four that I’m using at any given time), sometimes a scrap of paper that’s handy because I don’t feel like looking for one of said notebooks. My iPad, my Mac, and iPhone are three other options frequently used – I could do an ad for Apple, which is hysterical to anyone who reads this and knows me well enough to know I came kicking and screaming to using all these electronic devices.

I could blame it on the fact that we’re shuttling between Tahoe and the Bay Area every week, spending most of the week here in Tahoe. Whatever I need at any given time is always at the other house. And while the physical reality of moving around doesn’t help, it really only highlights the need TO GET A SYSTEM. One I can stick with. So that my life doesn’t feel as scattered as it is.

You will see that lovely little frittata at some point, I’m sure the notes will turn up, but it won’t be today. Instead I thought I’d share a black bean soup I made over the weekend that was just killer. Black beans have a starring role, to be sure, but they’re balanced with tomatillos, corn, tomatoes and avocado. It’s a hearty and flavorful soup, but isn’t the same without a topping of chipotle sour cream, lime juice and cilantro. I know this because I have the notes right here in front of me :-)

Black Bean, Tomatillo, and Corn Soup

     by Susan Pridmore


Black Bean, Tomatillo, and Corn Soup

  • 1 poblano chili pepper (also called pasilla peppers)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped white onion
  • 3/4 cup quartered, husked tomatillos
  • 1 2/3 cup corn kernels (2 medium ears of corn)
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, including the liquid
  • 1/4 cup tomato puree
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 2/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • Limes
  • 2 avocados, sliced (1/2 avocado per bowl)
  • Cilantro
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper


Roast the poblano pepper under the broiler until the skin is blackened all over, turning the pepper as needed. Place in a paper bag for five minutes. Peel, chop off the top, open up and remove all the seeds. Coarsely chop and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and tomatillos and sauté until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the corn kernels and sauté another two minutes.

Add the black beans and liquid, tomato puree, tomato, chopped roasted poblano, tomato, and broth. Simmer for 15 minutes and add the lime juice, salt and cayenne pepper.

Prepare the toppings: slice the lime into wedges, slice the avocados, chop the cilantro, and stir together the sour cream and chipotle.

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  1. says

    Been there, lost that, love this. I buy red Moleskine notebooks in the 3-pack, and use them exclusively for food notes. I actually started last summer, when I knew I’d want to keep a food (eating and cooking) journal while in Italy and France. I continued the habit at home. They’re small enough to fit in a purse, and red is an easy color to find. It’s greatly minimized losses.

    This soup is divine! Well worth the loss of the fritatta notes. Easy for me to say!

    • says

      I see a shopping trip ahead of me. This is a great idea, for both the size and color. I’m spending the month of September in Italy and want to keep and food journal too, so this advice is timely. Thanks so much!!!

      • Marci says

        Hi Lynda,

        I love how you spell your name! My daughter’s name is Lyndsay!
        I have a question about your Black Bean, Tomatillo and Corn Soup… how many servings does it make? I have a family of four who like to have seconds as well as enjoy leftovers for during the busy week:)


    • says

      Thanks so much Lynda!! It wasn’t as gorgeous as your frittata you posted over the weekend, but it was really good. I’m sure the notes will turn up. Heading back to the Bay Area later today and I’ll be searching there for them next :-) I appreciate your comment very much.

    • says

      The soup was honestly really good, Laura, although I know there can be so much subjectivity around these things. And yes, Cynthia has spurred me to buy the brightest colored notebook I can find :-) If I lose my notes from my upcoming Italy trip, I will be a lot more than just frustrated….

  2. says

    The 2nd and 3rd paragraph of you post described me perfectly, especially the 3rd. except I have a PC, no ipad, mac or iphone. And yes, the lovely little frittata notes will turn up, these notes always turn up when you least expect them to.
    Love your soup.

  3. says

    Susan – when you’re ready to use a formal ‘test sheet’ let me know! But even with that, believe me, it’s easy to get carried away cooking and skip the note taking. I can make myself crazy!
    It takes quite the discipline.

    • says

      As you are a professional recipe developer, I bow to your experience and knowledge Rosemary!! I would love to use a formal test sheet – what a fabulous idea. I would love to see what you use. I tried to recreate the recipe in my head yesterday, but I had made it several times, and just couldn’t remember the final form for sure. And I had invested way too much time into it to shoot from the hip at the last moment, and hope for the best.

  4. says

    I know just how you feel Susan. My problem is I write on what ever is available at the moment and then sometimes tear off the bottom to use as a grocery list, LOL. Or I just use that and who ever knows what happens to it. I love this soup it really sounds delicious. I have yet to use the tomatillos though. I am going to have to remedy that one. Wonderful recipe.

  5. says

    As much as I love frittata I appreciate you sharing this soup! It looks divine and I’m pinning it to make. And just this week I went through something similar in searching for notes on a recipe, so you are not alone!

  6. masyoza says

    Your black bean, tomatillo, and corn soup looks so fresh. :)
    I don’t mind eat this every day. LOL.
    Thank you for sharing. :)
    You can submit your black bean, tomatillo, and corn soup pics on my Food Photography site.
    It is a food (and drink of course) photography site where members can submit all food (and drink of course (again) LOL ) pictures that make readers hungry.
    Well, you know it’s fun to make others hungry (and thirsty)! 😀

  7. says

    What a beautiful (and yummy!) soup. Yep, agree with everyone else a little notebook is the way to go! I try to keep one in my purse because you never know where inspiration will hit and writing it down is the only way I’ll ever remember it haha 😀

  8. susan g says

    Count me in on the recipe-note-loser list! Running this problem by another blogger, another notebook user, I concluded that ONE notebook would be the answer. I have multiple notebooks, and even more pieces of ‘transitional’ pieces of paper. For you, one notebook that goes with you might be best. But then, you will need another notebook just for Italy! (Years ago I made a meatless spaghetti sauce, Italian sausage style, using lentils. Didn’t write it down and subsequent attempts never worked. Almost learned my lesson then…)
    The soup looks great, and I just made a pressure cooker full of black beans. Just need tomatillos.

  9. says

    My family loved this! They’re already demanding that I make it again. The poblano and tomatillos added a really unique flavor profile that we hadn’t tried before, but I’m excited to use these ingredients in even more recipes. Thanks!

  10. says

    Sweet blog! I found it while browsing on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thanks
    Lynne recently posted..LynneMy Profile

  11. Susansa says

    We made this tonight – soooo delicious and filling! We’ve had a bowl of tomatillos in a bowl on the counter since the last frost (months ago). So glad we found this recipe! Can’t wait to check out your other recipes!

  12. Melissa says

    I just made this recipe and very tasty. It is actually very good without the lime juice. So if you make it, sample before you put the lime juice in. Although the lime added a bit of tang, I think I will make it without lime next time. Otherwise very good recipe for a cold rainy fall day. Thank you,


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