Green Chili (ground beef)

An old favorite Wichita restaurant makes a ground beef based green chili soup, and serves it topped with a bit of shredded cheese, with flour tortillas on the side. Its a lovely cold weather dish, and if you keep ground beef in your freezer, it can be an easy pantry meal.  This isn’t exactly like the restaurant version, but it is pretty close, and is very good.

Ingredients:

2tbsp butter

2 lbs beef

1 onion (diced)

4 poblano peppers (seeded and diced)

1 – 28oz can medium green enchilada sauce

2 small cans diced chilies

2 – 3 cups beef broth

2 tsp garlic paste

1 tsp cumin

2 bay leaves

Flour, to thicken

Salt and pepper, to taste

Shredded cheese (queso quesadilla or pepperjack)) to top each bowl.

Method:

Brown ground beef in a soup pot or dutch oven, with the butter.

Add onion and poblano, let cook for a few minutes.

Add garlic paste, canned items, and beef broth.

Add bay leaves and cumin.

Let simmer for about 30-45 minutes.

Make a slurry of cold water and flour, about 3 tbsp to ~1/2 cup of cold water and mix well with a fork or whisk.  Add a tablespoon or two of slurry slowly to simmering soup and allow to simmer a bit to thicken. Add more as needed to achieve desired thickness; it should be between that of a thick soup and a thin stew.

Adjust salt, black pepper, and additional cumin to taste.

Nabeyaki Udon

In continuing with an effort to actually post some of our recent recipe additions, here’s a recipe for nabeyaki udon.   We originally found this recipe at Just One Cookbook, which is a fantastic blog of Japanese recipes. I’m going to present our version of the recipe here, with modifications we’ve had to make based on what we can get our hands on.  While you can find some of these ingredients in a well-stocked megamart, I would recommend you try out an Asian market, if you have one in your area.  We’re lucky enough to live close to our favorite Asian grocer, and we’ve made that a part of our shopping routine.

A note on the mushrooms: we can find fresh shiitake, but if you can’t then dried is great.  We just prefer the texture of the fresh, so we opt for that.  The shimeji mushrooms are small clusters of mushrooms that look kind of like enoki (they are really cute-you can see them on the top of the soup). If you can’t find them, standard buttons would work, but you do lose quite a bit of complexity and woodsiness (which is a word).

Also, this is supposed to be cooked in individual serving bowls, but we don’t have anything quite suitable, so I just make it in our enameled cast iron dutch oven.  The ending presentation isn’t quite as pretty as the nicely composed individual bowls, but needs must, and it’s still darned tasty.

Nabeyaki udon

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

  • 1 chicken thigh, diced
  • 4 fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 4 baby bok choy, blanched
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 package kamaboko fish cake (that’s the pink and white stuff in the picture)
  • 2 sticks imitation crab
  • 1/2 pack shimeji mushrooms, bottom 1/2″ trimmed
  • 3 scallions
  • 2 packages udon (we use the vac-packed shelf stable variety)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups dashi (3 cups water + 1 generous tsp hondashi granules)
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce

 

Method

Prepare dashi according to package instructions and put over medium heat in a large, heavy cooking vessel.  Add the mirin and soy.   Dice the chicken into 1/2 inch cubes, and add it to the pot, along with the sliced shiitake, and sliced carrot.  Bring to a bare simmer, and let the chicken get fully cooked.  Once the chicken is cooked, add the roughly chopped bok choy and scallions, along with the noodles. The udon will take a few minutes to relax and separate.  Once it has, go ahead and add a few 1/4″ slices of the kamaboko per person and set that on top of the soup, along with the imitation crab and shimeji.  Crack the eggs into the soup, then cover and allow to simmer gently until the eggs are cooked to your liking.  Dish soup into bowls and serve.

Traditionally, this is served with tempura shrimp, but if you don’t want to go to the trouble of frying something, it’s still delicious and easy without it.  This also scales wonderfully.  I made this for a kenjutsu group of 4, and the only modification to method was to cook the noodles in their own pot of broth, then combine everything in the bowls.

 

Lentil Soup

For lunch today, I threw together a soup from the pantry. We’ve had some green lentils in the cupboard for quite some time, so I dug those out and made a French-style lentil soup.

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, chopped fine
1 large stalk celery, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cup lentils, rinsed and sorted
4 cups broth (beef, chicken or vegetable-whatever you have on hand)
1 15 oz can diced tomato
2 tsp thyme (or more to taste)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp pepper (or more, to taste)
Salt, to taste

Methods
Saute mirepoix over medium heat until translucent and starting to color. Add garlic, and continue cooking another 30 seconds. Add lentils, seasonings, and broth. Bring to a boil, then let simmer until lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. At that point add the tomatoes and continue cooking another 5 minutes. If you want a slightly thicker consistency, use an immersion blender for a few seconds to break up some of the soup.

This is a simple, healthy, yet surprisingly filling soup that is particularly good for cold winter days. As with most soups, it goes very well with buttered toast.

Artichoke Soup

So this is a couple of months late, but this is a really lovely late spring, early summer soup. This started as a Giada recipe, found here, but I found that some modification was necessary (ie, I didn’t have any mascarpone on hand, and didn’t feel like going to the store).

Ingredients
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 leeks, white part only, washed well and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small potato, peeled and chopped
1 (10-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Squeeze of lemon, to serve

Method
Slice leeks, and saute in olive oil over medium heat. Once soft, add garlic and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes, stirring to prevent the garlic from burning. Add artichokes and saute for another couple of minutes. Add potato and chicken stock, along with some salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, and let simmer for half an hour. After simmering, bring out the immersion blender (or you could use a conventional blender, but really, immersion is easier). Blend until smooth. Add cream, and stir in. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve, and add a squeeze of lemon to each bowl.

This is a really lovely mild-flavored artichoke soup. Unlike many cream or creamed soups, this doesn’t have the clumpy, gluey consistency that you may find in poorly executed restaurant soups.

Chicken and Dumplings

Since I seem to be coming down with the crud, we decided to make some chicken and dumplings last night. While a bit on the bland side, for a simple throw together soup, it was great. The dumplings were very light and fluffy, and were great with the slightly thickened broth and chicken mixture.

Ingredients
1/2 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 clove of garlic
2 lbs chicken breast, cut into chunks
Broth, to cover

Saute veggies in some olive oil until translucent. Add broth and chicken. Bring to a simmer. Add herbs and pepper as desired. We let this simmer for an hour or so, then made a slurry of water and flour to thicken it a bit before making the dumplings.

Dumpling Ingredients
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp melted butter
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
Pepper, herbs to taste

Mix dry ingredients. Add butter, egg and milk and bring together. With the soup at a simmer, drop spoonfuls of batter onto the top of the soup. Cover and let cook, undisturbed for 15 minutes. Serve.

Mountain Recipe 2: Canederli

After a few months’ absence, I’m back to present this second Mountain recipe, called Canederli (accent on the first “e”: CanEderli). This is a much-beloved dish in the Northeast of Italy–from the Brenta valley to the Sudtirol, and it’s also much appreciated in Austria all the way East to Styria.

Like other dishes that I have presented, it is a representative of the “cucina povera” and uses as a main ingredient yesterday’s bread–which would be sacrilege to throw away.

Ingredients for four people:

~ 14 Oz soft bread (white is my favorite)
~ 7 Oz bacon or “Speck,” cut into small cubes
~ 2.5 Oz flour
~ 2 eggs
~ 1 midsize onion
~ Parsley
~ Milk, best if whole
~ Broth
~ Olive oil, salt, pepper

Soak the bread in lukewarm milk for about 3 hours. Then strain it thoroughly to obtain a firm, dough-like texture. Prepare a sautee by placing the onion, finely chopped, and the bacon in a casserole with oil over medium-low heat.

When the sautee is ready, discard the oil and add the contents to the bread. Mix together with the eggs, flour, salt and a pinch of parsley, making sure the whole is firm and homogenous.

Use your hands to form balls a bit smaller than a tennis ball, making sure they are nice and firm. Then, place them in a deep pot of boiling broth (I really like home-made chicken for this) and cook them until they float to the surface.

Enjoy them in a deep dish halfway filled with broth, to which you can add pepper and grated cheese. Some prefer to cover them with butter and sage instead.

This recepie is wonderful for this time of year, and it is particularly enjoyable after a day in the cold weather. A nice dry Northeastern or German white will go fantastically with it–as will of course a good, hearty table red.

Please let me know how this turns out.

Barbaresco

Leek and Potato Soup

Last night, Chris and I decided to try a nice leek and potato soup as a side for a quiche we made (which will follow later). After some poking around in cookbooks and online, we found an Emeril recipe on food network’s website, and based our soup on that. The end result was a delicate, fragrant and very tasty soup.

Ingredients
4-5 leeks sliced (enough for 3 cups)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1.5 lbs boiling potatoes, peeled and cubed
salt and pepper
1 tbsp garlic, minced
6 cups chicken broth or stock (we didn’t use homemade for this-we’re saving that for when we need our death’s door soup when the first fall colds hit).

Melt butter over medium heat, and add leeks, cooking for around 3-5 minutes, until starting to soften. Add garlic, and cook another minute. Add chicken stock and potatoes and bring to simmer. Add some salt and pepper. Simmer half an hour until potatoes are tender. Serve.

Emeril recommended pureeing the soup at this point, and finishing it with some parsley and herbed cheese, but we decided to leave it chunky, with an extra grind of pepper. Definitely a soup we’ll be doing again.
Potato and Leek soup