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Cook the brown rice according to directions on the box.
In a large stock pot, combine all ingredients (except optional toppings) and let simmer over medium-low heat for at least 15 minutes (but longer is fine).
Serve warm with preferred optional toppings.
FREEZER MEAL INSTRUCTIONS
To freeze*: Combine the broth and refried beans in a large pot. Whisk until smooth. Then add in all other ingredients and stir. Carefully ladle the soup into freezer bags or containers and seal BEFORE cooking. (Hint: It helps to have one person hold the bag and another ladle the soup. Make sure the bags seal completely.) Freeze until ready to use. Or, another option is to cook the soup fully, cool it and freeze for later.
To Prepare: Thaw in the refrigerator or using the defrost setting on the microwave. Cook on stove top according to directions. (Note: If soup is fully cooked, then warm gently over low heat on stove top or in Crock-Pot.)
* Unlike the rest of our freezer meal recipe collection, this one makes a double portion or provides two 4-serving meals for the freezer meal party.