Plantain Soup

It’s the time of year that my mind wanders off to Honduras, Ecuador and Mexico. I dream of warm weather, tropical foliage and platanos! Platanos are particularly important in the diet of Coastal Ecuadorians, and I don’t believe I ever had a meal that did not include them in some form. They usually eat the plantains green either fried, baked or mashed to make empanada dough. My favorite way to eat the platano is fried and smashed in what they call, “Patacones.” In other parts of Latin America fried and smashed plantains are called, “Tostones.” They are an acquired taste as they tend to be quite dry, but the minute I tasted them topped with hot and spicy Aji, I couldn’t get enough. Aji is a hot chile, cilantro and lime condiment served everywhere in Ecuador.

An Ecuadorian custom from the highlands  is to serve a light soup as a first course for the mid-afternoon meal, and it’s common to see a few platanos floating around the broth with diced potatoes and a sprig of cilantro. Slices of avocado, toasted hominy and Aji were always served with the soup.

Today’s recipe combines an Ecuadorian platano fetish with my never-ending quest for maximum nutritional value. Here you will find copious quantities of kale! And don’t even think about eating the soup without the Aji. Yes, it’s a condiment to be served on the side, but it without it, you’ll feel like you’re eating mashed potatoes without the gravy.

Ingredients:

Soup

  • 1 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced
  • 1 large Yukon gold potato, diced
  • 2 plantains, peeled and sliced
  • 1 bunch curly kale, deveined and chopped
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 Tbs. cumin
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • avocado and lime as garnish

Aji

  • 4 Serrano peppers
  • 1 small bunch cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 lime juiced
  • salt to taste
  • splash water

Blend together in food processor or blender.

Directions:

Be careful not to overcook this soup. Serve immediately.

Heat oil in a stock pot. Add onions and cook until they are crispy. Next add the garlic and stir it until fragrant. Add water, cumin, salt, potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are almost tender. Add plantains and cook for a few minutes until the potatoes and plantains are tender. Add the kale just before serving. It should just wilt and turn bright green. Serve with Aji, avocado and lime on the side.

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Vitamin Supplement Number One – Beet, Sweet and Kale Soup

Enough of the death dirge already!  I hear you. A few of my “fans” have been concerned that the black shroud and “Mock Chicken” was a sign of death to the blog. Perhaps I was one of those bloggers not quite willing to come right out and wrap it up, you thought. Truth be told, I never intended to be away so long, but in all my moments of cooking, have had little to motivate. Summer’s end brought me back to work with no weekly CSA and little motivation. The family plate reverted to our standby Mexican stuffed burritos with a variety of salsa, simple soups or stir-fries. Not much that was blog-worthy, I’m afraid.

Today, the sun is shining brightly over Minnesota, and this winterized body is craving some vitamins. A stop at the grocery, and the fridge is filled with chard, kale, beets, broccoli and a variety of fruits. Here’s what I came up with for Vitamin Supplement Number One:

Ingredients:

  • 2Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 large beets, peeled and grated
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated with beets
  • water to cover veggies
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 Tbs. Garam Masala
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch curly kale, deveined and sautéed in olive oil
  • Slivered almonds, toasted

Directions:

1) Wash and devein kale. Chop and saute in a splash of olive oil. Cook until just wilted and still bright green.

2) Grate sweet potatoes and beets. Place in large stock pot with olive oil and water to cover. Add salt and pepper, vinegar, honey, garam masala. Bring to slow simmer and cook until beets are just tender.

3) Toast slivered almonds in a dry skillet. Keep the almonds moving, and toast until the edges start to brown. Turn the toasted almonds out onto a cool plate.

3) Serve in large bowls with greens and toasted almonds on top.

Summer Potato Soup

This is another kid-friendly soup that makes mama happy with all kinds of “goodness” hidden inside. This pureed number sports new potatoes, onions, garlic, zucchini and carrots that all help to nourish the body: low-fat, high protein, high fiber, vitamin packed. But who cares about all that after a week of trips to the old-fashioned candy store, all-you-can-eat Oreos, and making faces on Ritz crackers with Easy Cheese? Watching the boy scarf down two bowls of the soup without a single complaint makes me think his body was in need of nutrients after the “Up North at the Cabin” binge.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 pounds red potatoes, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into chunks
  • water to cover potatoes
  • 6-8 small carrots
  • 2 cups large lima beans, pre-cooked
  • 2 cups garbanzo beans, pre-cooked
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch hot pepper flakes

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a stock pot. Add onions and saute on a low heat until they begin to brown. Add garlic and cook for a minute – remember, don’t let it burn! Add diced potatoes and fill the pot with enough water to just cover them. Bring the water to a boil, and cook the potatoes until they are just tender. Add the zucchini and cook for a few minutes.

Puree the onion, garlic, potato and zucchini with an immersion blender or a standard blender. I used a standard because I wanted it finely pureed. (Max doesn’t like potatoes or zucchini!) You may need to do the blending in two batches.

Return the puree to the stock pot and add the carrots. Heat on a low simmer until the carrots are cooked. Add the pre-cooked garbanzo and lima beans to the mix. Season with salt, pepper and pepper flakes.

Note: This soup was garnished with an herb chimichurri that I made with a handful of fresh herbs, a the juice of one lemon, about 1/4 cup olive oil, a clove of garlic and salt and pepper.

Miso Soup with Soba Noodles

Foxtail Delivers! Finally, fresh veggies once again. Having to decide what to make for dinner has had me in the dumps. Of course all the while I’ve been away I’ve been cooking, but it’s been many of the tried and true staples of our household. Being away from Bloglandia has allowed me some free time for other endeavors like finishing our attic conversion, cleaning out the basement and getting through the school year with the toughest class ever – I’m okay.

This year I am splitting the CSA share with my neighbor because I’d like to get out to the farmer’s markets to embellish my supply. Last year there was not a single square inch remaining in the fridge on Thursday delivery day. Even so, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with the greens. We got a huge bundle of spinach along with another gigantic stash of what I believe to be mizuna and a third mound of Arugula. There is enough broccoli for at least four meals as well as some lovely purple kohlrabi and radishes. Spring onions and a lovely herb pot topped off the box. This stuff just screams, “Miso Soup with Soba Noodles!”

Miso tends to be a little quiet for my liking, so I decided to embellish the soup with this crazy chutney. It’s a flavorful blend of ginger, garlic, lemon grass, lime zest, basil and cilantro. Next time I might think to add a serrano or thai chile to the puree as well, but tonight opted for a little garlic chile on the side to spice up the soup. This soup is bright and delicious for a cool early summer dinner.

Ginger infused Herb Chutney

  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 inch ginger, sliced
  • 1 Tbs. lemon grass
  • zest of one lime
  • dash of salt
  • 1 large handful fresh basil
  • 1 large handful fresh cilantro
  • olive oil – enough to pull the chutney together 2-4 Tbs.

Miso Soup

  • Two quarts water
  • 1 Tbs. coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup miso paste
  • 1 Tbs. Green Thai Chile Paste
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 package soba noodles
  • 1 large head broccoli, cut into pieces
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 large bunch spinach
  • 1 large bunch mizuna
  • 3 green onions, sliced into rounds for garnish

Directions:

Make the chutney first by processing all the ingredients in a food processor. Drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube until a green paste forms. Set this aside in a serving dish.

Next put the water on to boil and add miso, chile paste and soy sauce.

Grate the carrots the long way so they are easy to eat with the soba noodles.

Once the water comes to a rolling boil add noodles. I cooked them for about four minutes before I added the carrots. Once the water began to boil again, slowly add the broccoli. If you add the broccoli too fast it will cool the water and stop the boil, so add it a few pieces at a time. Allow the soup to cook until the soba is tender, or for a total of about seven minutes from the time it first enters the water.

At the very last minute, add spinach. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with mizuna, green onions and the chutney.

Potato Leek Soup

This is not your average potato leek soup. It has no dairy, waxes pink from a flurry of swiss chard stem antioxidants, flushes with a little sweet honey mead, and swoons mellow from roasted potatoes and leeks. That’s right, they are roasted before they are made into soup, and the sheet pan used to roast them get’s a stove-top deglazing with the white wine. Have you ever deglazed a cookie sheet before? I had never, and the technique made me think I was in a European kitchen wearing chef’s whites and a touque!

The whole idea to roast the potatoes and leeks comes from Ina Garten, Back to the Basics. Using this technique definitely adds more time to the meal, but the flavor is quite stunning, and it was fun to use a few seasonal veggies as well as a bottle of mead from White Winter Winery in Wisconsin – getting back into the local scene after a long winter!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large leeks, trimmed, washed and thinly sliced
  • 3 pounds potatoes, diced
  • oil to coat
  • 1 head garlic, roasted in foil with a drizzle of olive oil
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1 bunch swiss chard, stems and a bit of greens
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut into small chunks
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degree. Toss the sliced leeks and potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for about 45 minutes or until tender. Place the foil-wrapped garlic on the cookie sheet to roast while the leeks and potatoes cook. You may want to flip the veggies during cooking, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

When the potatoes are tender, remove the cookie sheet from the oven and place on stove-top over medium heat. Here’s where you get to deglaze a cookie sheet! Pour in 1 cup of wine and scrape the crispy bits off the bottom. Mash the potatoes with a fork and mix with the wine. Remove the cloves of garlic from the head, and squeeze out the roasted garlic paste. Mix everything together. Let some of the wine cook off then scoop the mixture into a stock pot. Add about six cups of water or stock, salt and pepper to taste and more wine if you like. Bring it to a simmer.

Add the swiss chard stems and allow to simmer for about ten minutes. Last, add the asparagus and cook for another five minutes on very low heat. You don’t want the asparagus to get stringy. It should be bright green and still just a bit crisp.

Curried Carrot Soup

One of my students asked me today on the way to the buses, “Mrs. Washburne, what are you going to make for dinner tonight?” That’s when my mind started racing. What am I going to make for dinner? This question reminded me of the fact that last night Jeff picked up Chipotle because the cupboards were basically bare. I’ve been working so much lately that our family’s grocery shopping didn’t get done this weekend. As soon as I got home, I surveyed the fridge, found a large bag of carrots and two lovely red peppers, and the idea of Curried Carrot Soup came to me. Pressed for time, I ran all the veggies through the grater on the food processor and had the soup simmering in less than ten minutes.

To save time I even cut corners on the grilled cheese and made them open-faced under the broiler. The trick for that is to toast both sides of the bread under the broiler and then put the cheese on for a quick melt. This is a really nice way to make lots of cheese toasties, but keep a close eye on them or they will burn quickly! Dinner was ready to eat in less than twenty minutes. Now I am just waiting for the boys to come home to eat it!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly slice in half-rounds
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 large carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 red peppers, grated
  • water to cover veggies
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1 Tbs. curry powder
  • dry roasted pistachios to top (optional)

Directions: Saute the onions in the oil until translucent then add the minced garlic. Once the garlic gives off its’ aroma, add the grated carrots and cover them with water. Add the spices and bring the soup to a slow boil. Add the peppers at the very end when the carrots are tender. Top with toasted pistachios and enjoy!

Chili Colorado

“Oh Mom, that looks so good!”

Yeah, I did it again! Another soup Max will eat! He loves Lima beans, he loves chili, and he loves carrots and red peppers. Put them all together and you get a happy nine-year-old who will eat something other than toast! He even helped me name it. While I was making the soup, Max was working on a drawing and using some colored pencils named in English, Spanish and French down the side. He was quizzing me by asking me how to pronounce the colors in Spanish. When he came over to look at the soup, he said, “It looks like Fall. It’s so colorful. How do you say ‘colorful‘ in Spanish? It’s ‘colorado’ I replied. There you have it, Chili Colorado.

Chili Colorado:

  • oil to coat pan
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Serrano pepper, minced
  • 1 pound dried Lima beans
  • 1 bunch dinosaur kale, deveined and finely chopped
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, roasted and finely chopped
  • 3 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 – 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. chili powder
  • 2 large red peppers, diced

Directions: Start by washing the beans then cook them until tender. Once the beans are soft, drain the water off and rinse them a few times. All this washing and rinsing helps eliminate gas.

In a stock pot, saute the onion until it becomes translucent. Add the garlic. When the garlic becomes fragrant, return the Lima beans to the pot, and fill with water just a little above the level of the beans. Add the carrots, kale, cauliflower and spices and bring the soup to a simmer. I often taste here and add more cumin, chili powder or salt. When the carrots are tender, add the red peppers. You don’t want them to cook for too long or they get mushy. Serve with cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro, crackers or tortilla chips.

Over the River

Over the river and through the woods to a long weekend of total relaxation. The boys had hoped for snow, but these balmy fifty degree days here in the harsh North Woods have put a damper on snow-filled play. Instead of boarding we walked to the top of the ski runs, we hiked up the Alpine slide and looked out at the vast almost-winter world of Northern Minnesota.

For sustenance we enjoyed another pot of Max’s favorite chile. It was the most simple of Thanksgivings, and we were thankful for that.

After a long weekend away, we came home to little in the fridge, and as usual, I was in the mood for soup. This quick concoction is another ugly-buggly, but totally delicious. It’s a split pea number with red potatoes and topping it off is an Indian pancake with chickpea flour and cabbage.

 

Soup:

  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 small red potatoes, diced
  • 1/2 pound yellow split peas
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. cumin
  • 1 Tbs. curry powder
  • 1 pound fresh spinach, chopped

Directions: Saute the onion in a little oil on low heat until it becomes translucent. Add the garlic and potatoes. Cover the potatoes with water, and add the remaining ingredients. Cook until split peas are tender, about 30 minutes. The soup was actually quite lovely until I mashed it with a potato ricer – all in the name of love for a little boy who doesn’t like chunks of potatoes!

Pancake:

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 cups red cabbage, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • oil for frying

Directions: Mix the chickpea flour with the water and spices. It should be similar to a pancake batter, but not too runny. Fold in the red cabbage. Fry on a non-stick frying pan and gently turn when they begin to brown on the bottom.

Curried White Bean and Potato Soup

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Yes, it’s another soup – my ultimate comfort food. I never eat soup in restaurants or buy it from the co-op because it’s never as good as the pots that come from my hands! I find soup totally satisfying on so many levels. First, I love the layers of healthful ingredients like beans and veggies. The heat from soup makes it soothing to consume, and the ease of putting together a large quantity of reheatable food is a true de-stressor! One pot of soup in the fridge means we can easily nourish our bodies through our sixty plus hour workweek without much additional cooking.

The other thing I love about eating soup is that it’s a vehicle for crunchy tidbits and cheese. We almost always cut up chunks of cheddar and then eat the soup with our favorite tortilla chips. Sometimes our soup gets topped with croutons, and Jeff and Max also enjoy the provincial saltine cracker. This soup is a little spicy so it pairs well with sour cream and tortilla chips. One thing is for sure, I never eat a bowl of soup without a crunchy grain along side.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 Tbs. canola oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch ginger piece, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 bunch collard greens, deveined and sliced into ribbons
  • 2 cups brussel sprouts, quartered
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 6 red potatoes, diced
  • 4 cups white beans, precooked
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs. curry powder

Directions:

Saute the onion in the oil until it becomes translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and jalapeno and saute just until the aromatics are released. Next add the ribbons of collard greens, potatoes, brussel sprouts and enough water to cover the vegetables. Mix in the beans and spices and cook on a low simmer until the potatoes are tender. Of course, taste it before you serve it to make sure you have a spice combination you like. I often find myself adding a little more of this and that.

Hide the Beet

This is one of my favorite kitchen games as of late! How many different ways can I sneak these tuberous rubies into the food we eat? Most creative wins! This week we’ve had them in apple crisp – that was tasty – and now they are pureed and hanging out in the latest version of Black Bean Chile. All that manganese, folate and fiber are said to fight against colon cancer. Hopefully my game has a payoff.

Chile, or any soup for that matter, is a great hiding place for many veggies, and if you have a kid who likes soup, consider yourself lucky! Just think about all the vegetables that can be hidden when properly pureed or otherwise disguised. Max never guessed that there was a beet in the soup, but the first thing he said was, “It’s so red!”

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You probably won’t be able to replicate this recipe unless your freezer looks like mine: pesto, homemade chile paste and corn, but remember, Chile is a great place for hiding nutrient rich tidbits! Last summer I took three or four huge bags of dried chiles (chipotle, guajillo and de arbol), reconstituted them and made them into a paste which I froze in a cake pan and then cut into squares for individual servings. I didn’t record the recipe and don’t remember how it was done…sorry.

The basics of the Chile recipe are here:

  • 1 large onion, sauted in peanut oil
  • 1 head of garlic, minced
  • 1 pound black beans, precooked
  • 4 cups frozen corn
  • 4-6 tomatoes, pureed or diced
  • 1 roasted beet, peeled and pureed
  • 2-4 Tbs. Chile Powder (I used my paste)
  • 1 Tbs. cumin
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • salt, to taste

Sweet Potato Zuppa, White Beans and Crust

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Man is this delicious, or what! And so easy. The beauty of pureed soup? Very little prep as it all get’s pulverized in the end. Ready made were the white beans in the freezer from a big batch made a couple of weeks ago, the veggies came from last week’s CSA, and the bread a cinch. After all is said and done, the aromatics of the curry and ginger fill the house with an away-from-Minnesota smell and we end up with a beautiful and satisfying Minnesota winter soup. Oh, actually, it’s not winter yet. Would somebody please tell Mother Nature – not it!

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Zuppa Ingredients:

  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 Tbs. oil
  • 1 inch piece ginger, chopped
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, cut into pieces
  • 4 Thai chiles
  • 1 tsp. cumin seed
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 – 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes, diced
  • 3-4 large carrots, diced
  • 6-8 cups white beans, pre-cooked
  • 3/4 cup condensed milk
  • salt to taste

Directions:

1) Saute the onions, garlic, ginger and chiles in the oil.

2) Once the onions begin to caramelize, add the cumin seeds, garam masala and curry powder. The idea is to toast the spices for a few minutes on a low heat.

3) Add the sweet potatoes and carrots and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes and carrots are tender.

4) Use a blender to puree the sweet potato and carrot mixture and return to the stock pot.

5) Add white beans and salt to taste. Allow the soup to simmer for at least five minutes to bring the flavors together.

Crusts:

1) Slice a loaf of chiabatta or peasant bread.

2) Cover a cookie sheet with a thin layer of olive oil.

3) Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

4) Place slices of bread into oil and rub around to collect some of the oil, salt and pepper. Flip the slices over and do the same to the other side. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper.

5) Bake at 375 degrees just till the bread starts to brown on the edges. 7-10 minutes.

Jimmy’s Lentil Soup

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From left to right: Douglas Gage, Chris Wheeler, Kevin Hogan, James Shore

I know we’re not supposed to cry over spilled milk, but what about soup? Last week my high school sweetheart died in the Arizona Sweatlodge Accident – an event that surprisingly rocked my world. I am devastated by this loss, saddened by the tragedy, angered by the senselessness, and in mourning over the separation of a father from his children, a husband from his wife, a son from his mother, a brother from his siblings and a friend from us all.

The last time I saw Jim was in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1995 when Jeff and I returned from the Peace Corps. Jeff and I decided to try life in the American Southwest, and my old friend from high school happened to be living there. Jim arranged for us to stay with a friend of his while we looked for an apartment, and on one hot desert summer evening, we had a party. Jimmy made lentil soup.

I don’t really remember much from that night except for a few small details. I remember watching Jim cut the carrots with a big chef’s knife at the kitchen table. He was fastidious about his work. Each dice of the carrot was made to be the same size, and there was no hurry to get it done. While he chopped, I remember Jim explaining how the “Swamp Cooler” worked by using water vapor to cool homes in the desert, and I remember his hair was buzzed really short. The last time I had seen him in Minneapolis, his hair was long – mid back long. I don’t remember the jokes, but I recall the way he would toss his head to the ceiling and laugh.

We shared three years together, and despite the fact that it didn’t work out, he extended kindness to me long after we broke up. I have a locker full of memories of days spent with my high school sweetheart, but in front of me, a simple bowl of soup that from this day forward will remind me of my last night with James Scott Shore.

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Jimmy’s Lentil Soup – Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 pound lentils, washed
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 2 cups sweet potato, diced
  • 5 medium tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8-12 cups water

Directions: 1) Saute the onion until it becomes translucent then add the garlic and jalapeno. Saute just long enough to smell the garlic. 2) Add all the other ingredients except the cilantro and sweet potato. 3) Cook the soup until the lentils are almost soft then add the sweet potato. Cook just until the sweet potato is tender and add cilantro just before serving.

Chili Mole

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Here is another CSA inspired chili recipe. Foxtail Farm contributed tomatoes, spinach, bell peppers, corn, cilantro, onions and garlic to this dish. This chili is a little more time consuming than my last, but the mole imparts a unique and entirely satisfying flavor.

Dry toast until the sesame seeds begin to brown. 2-3 minutes.

  • 2 Tbs. white sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. dried chile peppers
  • 1 tsp. black pepper corns

Saute in 3-4 Tbs. oil

  • 1 jumbo onion, diced

After the onions begin to caramelize add all the following ingredients except the balsamic. Use the balsamic to deglaze the pan after cooking for 3-4 minutes.

  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs. ground chipotle peppers
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

Next add:

  • 3 quartered tomatoes
  • 1 pound fresh spinach

Cook until the tomatoes begin to break down.

Now you will blend the dry toasted ingredients and the spiced tomato saute to make a paste. Once this is pureed, pour it back into the stock pot. Now you will add:

  • 2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbs. agave nectar
  • 1 – 2 tsp. salt
  • 8 cups black beans
  • 2 cups lima beans
  • 4 cups corn kernels
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 4-5 medium tomatoes, pureed

Let the chile cook until all flavors are melded. Serve with fresh corn tortillas, chopped fresh cilantro, sliced avocado and a mild white cheese like queso blanco. Buen Provecho!

Corn and Bean Chowder

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We can’t handle too much corn-on-the-cob around our house. Max has braces which makes it impossible to eat with the cob, and the richness of corn hits my satiated level after one serving per year. We’ve had corn for the last four weeks from the farm, and I’ve been zapping it in the microwave, shucking it, removing from the cob and freezing. Today I set out to tackle the last fifteen ears in our fridge only to discover the new batch was perfectly white and bodacious. Along with this perfection in the box came some very sassy Biscayne Peppers just asking to be blister roasted. The wheels started to churn, and the idea of a bean infused corn chowder came to be. I like the idea of adding some protein in order to complete the amino acids needed for perfection, and to be able to balance out this giant carb load.

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Corn and Bean Chowder Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil to coat pan
  • 1 tsp. dried chipotle powder (or smoky paprika if you don’t want too much heat)
  • 1 tsp. cumin seed
  • 1 tbs. fresh sage, chopped
  • 12 ears corn, kernels removed
  • 4 cups white beans
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 2 or 3 roasted peppers, peeled and diced (Use whatever peppers you have – hot or sweet.)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Corn: My technique for the corn involves a five for five method. Take five ears of corn, husks and all, and zap them in the microwave for five minutes. Take them out and let them cool on the counter for a few minutes before you pull off all the husk and silk. If you are used to removing the husk prior to cooking, you will be amazed by how simple it is to do this way. Once those are all cooked, cut the kernels from the cob.

Now, let’s get this soup cooking. Dice your onions and put them into the hot oil in a stock pot. Cook them on a low heat while you mince the garlic. Toss in the garlic, cumin, chipotle and sage. Let the aromatics cook and the spices toast a little. Now add the water, corn and beans. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot.

Roasting the peppers: Use an all metal set of tongs to hold the peppers directly over the flame on your stove. They will begin to crackle and blister. When the skins turn mostly brown with spots of black, turn them. This will take a few minutes to completely char both peppers. Don’t be afraid to just set them on the stove racks for a few moments then flip. Once they are completely blistered, set them aside to cool. It also helps to put them in a closed paper bag. The steam from the hot chiles helps the skins peel off more easily once they cool. I’m not patient enough to spend much time waiting, so I usually run them under cold water and rub the skins off. Then all you have to do is slit them open with a knife to remove the seeds, take off the stem, and dice them up.

Finish the chowder by adding the diced chiles, salt and pepper. Taste to adjust seasonings and serve.

Vegetarian Chili Fall ’09

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I love chili, and it is often a staple in our house during the winter months. I labeled this one “09” because I never make it the same way twice. It’s also one of Max’s favorite soups, and you know by now, if he makes a request for any of my cooking, I oblige. Here’s one he and I whipped up using two kinds of beans I had in the freezer and a bunch of CSA tomatoes, corn, carrots and onions. I usually use lots of peppers and like to add zucchini or sweet potatoes, but right now I am focused on using what’s in the box.

Spices for chili are also very flexible. You can use the dried chipotle, or any hot pepper. Sometimes I use pre-made chili powder spices, but often I just add cumin, pulverized dried, hot peppers and salt. You can add the spices last and play around until you get a flavor you like.

Chili Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 8-10 carrots, diced
  • 8 cups cooked beans (we used 4 cups black and 4 cups white)
  • 8-12 tomatoes, pureed
  • 6 ears of corn
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1 Tbs. dried and powdered chipotle pepper
  • 1 Tbs. cumin
  • 1 Tbs. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano

Directions:

Microwave the corn in the husk for five minutes. Remove it and let it cool for a few minutes. Meanwhile, saute the diced onions until they are translucent and add the minced garlic. Cook for a few seconds just until the garlic releases its fragrance. At this point the corn should be cool enough to remove the husks and cut the kernels from the cob. Add all other ingredients and let the soup simmer for about twenty minutes until the flavors are nicely melded. The beauty of any soup is the garnish and with chili it’s fun to be creative. We like ours with chunks of cheddar, avocado or a dollop of crema, and there must be the crunch factor so we eat it with either crackers or chips.