I’ve been making variations of this soup for years. I used to include meat, but seldom do anymore; it just doesn’t seem to need it. Likewise, I used to use added fat in the form of oil or butter, but that has also fallen by the wayside. With a slow-cooker or crock-pot, this is dead easy.
1 medium yellow onion, small chopped
1 head garlic, peeled and diced
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can corn, drained
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can baked beans (the tomatoey-saucy kind, or pork’n’beans)
chili powder, cayenne powder, tabasco/vinegar, cumin, salt, pepper
I used to fry the onion and garlic at higher heat with butter or oil, but now I just sweat them dry in the slow cooker until translucent; a little salt helps get the moisture out of the onions. After that, I just dump all the cans in. I drain/rinse the corn, garbanzo beans, and red/kidney beans. The black beans go in straight; the black gunk in the can adds a certain low-brow excitement.
On top of that, hit it hard with the chili. Hard! Like 2-3 tablespoons, maybe more.. Don’t be shy; chili is mild enough, and this is for flavour, not heat. Spike it up with a few hard shakes of cayenne. Be more cautious here; taste frequently as you go, and be aware that the cayenne heat will build as the brew stews. Don’t forget the salt and pepper; easy now, keep seasoning as you brew, as you can always add more later, but can’t take it away.
If the mix seems too dry, put in a can of water. Now here’s the “secret”; you need a little acidity. I add a dash of vinegar, or a couple shots of Tabasco (which is really just pepper-flavoured vinegar). This plays against the sugars of the onions, corn, and baked beans.
Now get it all to bubble once or twice (plop ploorp!), then drop the temp to looooow and brew as long as you can stand to.