I'm so glad that you can purchase nopalitos already cleaned and jarred, because I really don't think I'd take the time to find them fresh, remove the spines, and peel them. You can find them in jars (see above photo) in Wal-Mart and almost all the grocery stores, and all you have to do is dump them in a strainer and rinse the salty brine off, and they are recipe-ready. Today, I even diced some up and added them to tuna salad, and it was delicious. They don't have a strong flavor, just add that salty kind of bite that capers add to dishes. Oh, and in this soup they look like green beans. I doubt anyone will notice there are cactus leaves in your soup!
Fiesta Vegetable Soup
1 T. olive oil2 large onions, peeled and chopped6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped2 medium green bell peppers2 medium red bell peppers2 bay leaves1/2 tsp. ground coriander2 tsp. ground cumin2 tsp. dried oregano1/2-1 tsp. red pepper flakes4 c. chicken or vegetable stock (this is a vegetarian dish if you use vegetable stock)1 pound fresh tomatillos, husked, 1/2 inch dice2 c. napolitos (from jar), rinsed well, drained, and coarsely chopped28 oz. canned diced tomatoes, undrained3 cans black beans, rinsed well and drained2 tsp. salt
6 dashes liquid smoke flavoring (you can leave this out, but I think it adds something important)
Garnishes: shredded cheese, fresh cilantro leaves, sour cream or Greek yogurt
Coat the bottom of a 6-8 quart heavy bottomed stock pot with thin layer of olive oil. Heat to shimmering, then add onions, garlic, peppers, and herbs and spices. Saute, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom, till vegetables are tender.
Add two cups of stock and tomatillos; simmer for 5 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients; bring to simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes, until all vegetables are tender and soup has thickened a bit. Adjust seasoning if needed and serve. Garnish as desired. Serves 8
(About 350 calories per serving without the garnishes.)