You say tomato. I say salsa. Hey, mistakes happen!

Mistakes happen … especially in the kitchen. And here at Soupalooza, we are not immune to the occasional “Holy Cow! What just happened here?”

Last week, I was invited to speak at the Vernon Hills Library on soup-making. I offered to bring samples, figuring there might be 20 people there. To my surprise (and delight), 90 people had signed up and there was a waiting list. (People love soup, what can I say?)

In any case, I decided to go with a pot of split pea and a pot of tomato — both would be easy to make and relatively inexpensive, considering the quantity. Off I went to the grocery store to buy canned fire roasted tomatoes, the killer ingredient for homemade tomato soup.

I bought 16 cans and came home and started opening them up. I diced the carrots and onions and got the pot a-boiling. When it came time for a taste, I almost screamed out loud. What the heck? This soup was so spicy it would tear the roof off of your mouth. I certainly could not serve something this hot to a room full of complete strangers.

What was the problem, you ask? I had accidentally bought 16 cans of fire roasted salsa. Who ever heard of salsa in a can in the tomato section of the grocery store? I buy my salsa in the salsa department in a jar! When did this development occur?

In any case, what to do with the hot soup? I threw a couple of cans of beans in and another can of tomatoes to try and settle it down. It was still too hot to serve so I figured I would give it to my 26-year-old son, who will eat anything, as long as its vegan — and the hotter the better for him.

So I remade the tomato soup and brought it to the talk. I also brought some of the Mistake Soup, just as a lesson about improvising and experimenting in the kitchen.

Lo and behold, they loved the Mistake Soup and even asked for the recipe. So here you go. Basically, it’s my tomato soup made with salsa and some beans thrown in. Add ground beef or another protein, if you like.

You can’t go wrong. It’s Mistake Soup!


Mistake Soup



2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 large onion, diced

1 carrot, diced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 cups roasted canned tomato salsa

1 cup diced tomatoes

½ teaspoon dried basil

1 cup vegetable stock

1 teaspoon sugar (if needed)

1 15- ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 15-ounce black beans, drained and rinsed


Put the oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the tomato paste and let it cook for 1 minute. Add the onion and carrot; sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the salsa, basil and stock and cook, stirring occasionally, 10-15 minutes. Add beans and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes.

Serves six.



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