It barely feels like winter has kicked in, but here we are waving goodbye to another National Soup Month. Lucky for us, Super Bowl is just a few days away so we can keep rocking the soup vibe without shame. This Posole Verde is so much more than a soup, perhaps a stew, and has all the personal choice condiments that are mandatory for serving a crowd. You could make this vegan by leaving out the pork (must you?) and swapping the stock. But the slow cooking required to pop the posole begs for pork to be front and center and turning into delicate strands, filling every bite.
Posole or Pozole?
I’m talking POSOLE, people!! Or is it POZOLE? It’s hominy or giant puffed-up corn. I first ran into posole while foodstyling a Today Show segment for Williams-Sonoma. Interesting that it was a first, because I grew up just down the street from Fuhrer Ford Mills, a hominy processing plant. As a result, our house always smelled of popped corn (kind of yummy), and there was a constant coat of silt on every surface (kind of crummy). But despite formative years in corn country, this most definitely was never ever on our table.
Pozole is the traditional Mexican spelling, though more commonly spelled posole here north of the border. Maize (maíz) was a sacred plant for the Aztecs and it was often a part of celebrations. To get from maize, to hominy or posole, the dried corn must be slaked with lime to create an alkali solution, called nixtamalization. This process loosens the hulls, makes them soft like beans, and then “pumps you up!” Remember Hans and Franz on SNL??? The lime used here is not from fresh citrus; rather, it is a food-grade calcium hydroxide. If you have ever turned cucumbers to pickles, perhaps you used “pickling lime” to crisp up the vegetables before canning. Luckily for us, by the time you find dried white corn on the shelves (in the dried bean section), this has already been done and is ready for use in soups and stews.
Another benefit of cooking or soaking in slaked lime and ash (an alkaline process) is that the nutritional value is bumped up (making it niacin-rich), it becomes easier to grind (resulting in masa, the main ingredient in tamales), and flavor and aroma are improved. In addition to dried posole – sometimes labeled as Giant White Corn or Maíz Mote Pelado – you might see canned hominy at your store. It’s a much faster solution, but to my taste NOT nearly the no-brainer substitution as canned-for-dried beans. The texture of posole prepared from dried kernels is unlike anything else – chewy, toothy, satisfying – and is totally lost in the canning process. Canned hominy is much like the soft texture of a canned bean and tastes like disappointment. It’s slightly metallic and oh so mushy. I’m so keen on dried posole texture that I have never made the substitution since I once sadly tried canned.
The traditional Mexican preparations for posole are blanco, rojo or verde. The first (blanco) is unadorned and has no green or red ingredients added, and the latter two rely on chilis (rojo), such as Guajillo or Ancho, or tomatillos, lime, cilantro and jalapenos (verde), as I am sharing here. Adding the green things at the very end of your simmering keeps them from overcooking, leaving the flavor bright and a bit spicy.
Preparing the Posole
If I have the time, I like to prepare the posole the same way I would prepare dried beans. Rinse the posole under cold water, and transfer to a stockpot. Cover with 1-inch of water, bring to boil, and turn off the heat. Let the posole soak overnight. When ready to use, drain and rinse again. If you are pressed for time, you can skip this step or just shorten it to the time you prep the remaining ingredients.
The verde recipe I share here calls for a late stage addition of a puree of lime juice, jalapenos, cilantro (stems and all) and tomatillos. It kicks up the flavor profile like 100000%. This is the kind of dish you can just plop on a back burner and walk away, passing every hour or so to check on the liquid level and adding more stock, as needed. I am not an instant pot or slow cooker “cooker”, but I bet/know in my heart they would drastically reduce the time. I happen to have a few followers who are, and I’m counting on you to comment below. The big reveal comes when the posole starts to pop and look like a flower or popcorn, depending on your vision. I’ll admit it – it can take from 3 to 5 hours to pop (longer if the dried corn has been around for years and if you skip the soaking step), but it’s very low maintenance and for me a bit satisfying to have something cooking for the afternoon that really doesn’t cry out for attention. It’s like I’m cooking, and I’m not. Once it’s getting close, just toss the lime juice et al. in the processor, and give it a whirl. Add this to the pot and cook a few minutes more.
In Mexico, this dish is usually served with an array of toppings, including limes, cheese, sour cream, avocados, and radishes. Who doesn’t love to dose their own dinner? All those garnishes make it the perfect football afternoon kind of centerpiece. Add a few chips or warm tortillas, maybe a big salad or some cornbread….. and a nice frosty beer. You will not be sorry!
If you have a big enough pot – or want to use two – double up on the recipe. It freezes really well and then you will have a souvenir of the day you turned your kitchen into the most fragrant cantina in town. I added some notes below on how best to freeze. And while you are scrolling down, check the bottom of the post for some delicious additions to your soup repertoire.
Super Bowl is just a few days away so we can keep rocking the soup vibe without shame. This Posole Verde is so much more than a soup, perhaps a stew, and has all the personal choice condiments that are mandatory for serving a crowd. Put down a feast of toppings, a crunchy salad, and some cornbread, and sit back and watch the half-time show!
1 pound dried posole, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 pounds pork loin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1″ cubes (about 3 1/4 pounds pre-trim)
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4–5 quarts chicken broth
1 pound tomatillos, husked removed and rinsed (about 10 medium)
2 jalapenos, stems removed and sliced in half
1 bunch cilantro, stems and leaves (reserve a few sprigs for toppings)
Juice of 2–3 limes
Grated Monterrey Jack
The night before, prep the posole:
Rinse the posole and transfer to a stockpot, covering with 1-inch of water. Bring to boil and turn off the heat. Let the posole soak overnight. When ready to use, drain and rinse again.
To make posole:
Heat oil over high heat in an 8-quart stockpot. Add pork, cumin, salt, and pepper. Sauté until pork is browned, about 10 minutes.
Add onion and garlic, and cook until softened and excess liquid has cooked off, about 6–8 minutes. Add soaked posole and stir to combine. Add 2 quarts of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check the liquid and when getting low, add another quart of stock. I tend to add the third quart around 90 minutes and the 4th quart around 3 hours. Altogether, this will simmer a total of 3, 4 or maybe even 5 hours. It will depend in part on the age and dryness of the dried product. To be safe, give yourself enough time for a 5-hour simmer.
The pork will fall apart and shred, and you will know the posole is done when the posole kernels have popped. The kernels will puff and pop, and look a bit like a flower (if you squint and have been hitting the cerveza during the last five hours). They burst open joyfully as if they want to become popcorn! Taste them periodically for doneness. Before they “blossom”, they will be quite starchy, fiber-full, and too chewy. Once sufficiently stewed, they will remain a bit chewy and toothy, but not woody.
Thirty minutes before the end:
When the kernels are starting to pop and getting close to the desired texture, toss the tomatillos, jalapenos, cilantro and lime juice into a food processor and puree. Add to stockpot and simmer for the final 30 minutes until the posole is tender. 30 minutes is plenty of time to simmer for this last step, but see note below.
Pressed for time? You can skip the soaking stage, or reduce it to the prep time for the rest of your chopping. That will likely lengthen the cooking time however.
Never add an acidic ingredient when cooking beans, or in this case, posole until the end. The acid binds with the outer structure and toughen it ups. No amount of additional cooking time will allow it to break down. Additionally, you want the fresh vibrant flavor from the green ingredients, which will dissipate if added too early in the cooking process.
If you are serving the posole later: Add the green mixture as you take the stew off the heat. The hot stew will cook sufficient “heat” out of these spicy and tart ingredients. To reheat, I also use some of that 5th quart to add to the pan. The posole will have continued to soak up broth as it sits in the refrigerator overnight, and you will need to loosen it a little with more stock.
Serve with bowls of the toppings, a crunchy salad and some cornbread!
Freezing? This stew is a fantastic freezer staple, but make sure to cool completely before transferring to freezer containers. I called for a 5th quart of stock so that you can top off the stew with liquid. Since there are a lot of chunky pieces, you want to make sure that they are all submerged in liquid before freezing.
Prep Time:30 minutes
Cook Time:4 hours
Keywords: posole, posole verde
It’s #NationalSoupMonth – so shout it out!
Here are some other ab-del (absolutely delicious) soups for your winter blues.
This hearty, healthy vegetable soup will get you through until the farmers’ markets are cranking out peak of the season produce again. A dollop of pesto will brighten the flavors and get you jonesin’ for sweet summer corn and tomatoes.
It probably seems like it’s way past soup season but bear with me. It’s about time that we take a second to think again about food waste and making a difference in the way we take advantage of the bounty of the season. If you have been following me for a while, you know that I am a big fan of taking any produce that you overbought and saving it in the freezer until you can use it. Ziplock it fresh, oven-dry it or sauté it and cover in broth before freezing…all to add to sauces, salads, pastas and soups through out the year. Now that we are looking down the barrel of summer, it’s time to clean the freezer and put all last season’s produce to good use. Healthy vegetable soup to the rescue!
Unfortunately we are still wasting 40% of the products that our hardworking farmers produce every year. Some are deemed too ugly to make it onto our supermarket shelves. Some are past their use by date. I love this campaign by the Ad Council. Best if used. Period. Look closely. $1500. That’s how much a family of four spends on food that goes into the trash every year. How great would that extra cash be?
And landfills filled with rotting food result in higher greenhouse gas emissions than US beef production. All that wasted food AND it is bad for the environment? No bueno!! So think about ways to re-purpose this produce and extend its life.
How to Save Vegetables
Fresh corn: cut it off the cob and ziplock it to freeze
Tomatoes:oven-dry and once cooled, ziplock and freeze
Zucchini, peppers: sauté and cover with broth, then freeze to add to soups and stews
Leafy greens: steam and squeeze out the excess liquid, then ziplock and freeze
Peas: shell and ziplock raw and freeze
Winter squashes: peel, seed and cube, then ziplock and freeze
Here are some of the things coming your way soon, so start thinking about it now. Of course, try to buy the right amount, but don’t throw out your excess. Respect the food and preserve it. Or if you are like me and know the corn will never be better, do buy extra and save it for the long, cold winter.
Sweet corn and sweet peas.
Heirloom cherry tomatoes definitely worthy of oven-drying to preserve for winter.
If you think this Kale is Krazy, wait until you see the farmer.
Best Ever Healthy Vegetable Soup
This soup takes advantage of many things I had in my freezer. I just made a big batch this weekend. I will put a few quarts away in the freezer for upcoming long days, but much I will eat this week. Saturday I start eating like a Syrian refugee as part of the Ration Challenge. More on that in the next post, but suffice it to say I am in a full-on panic about no fresh veggies for a week. Whole lotta rice and beans, with a sardine here and there.
You can customize this yummy, healthy vegetable soup to your own palate, but I found corn, butternut squash, edamame, and spinach all in the freezer. The canned cannellini and diced tomatoes I had in the pantry. And the remaining ingredients consisted of only a few fresh vegetables – leeks, zucchini, summer squash, and potatoes. In fact, this soup started as a leek and potato soup and then became a runaway vegetable extravaganza! You could even go so far as to add some chicken – either leftover roasted, poached or a rotiserrie chicken – to add a little lean protein.
Photo credit: Heather Gill for Unsplash
How to Clean a Leek
Sidebar note on cooking with leeks: LOVE THEM!!! They always seem to be available because they scare people and they get left behind. They add all the depth of flavor of an onion, with none of the bite. And they are really easy to use. However, they retain a lot of dirt, so they need a thorough wash first. Trim off the woody dark green leaves at the top (and save them for a stock pot), but leave the hairy root end intact for now. Once the top is trimmed, slice lengthwise down toward the root (without cutting through), first in half, then in quarters, using two long cuts. Now holding onto the root end, run it under cold water, fanning it out to remove all the grit. It’s a bit like a brush with long bristles. Shake, shake, shake. Once thoroughly cleaned, towel off excess water and cut crosswise in desired slices. Discard the root end when you get there. Some prefer to slice and then clean and here is a quick video on that.
I finish it off with a dollop of pesto – homemade or store-bought. That is how I finished it off on our spring vegetable soup with pistou on the very first menu at New World Grill. The vegetables were very precisely and finely minced. That’s a far cry from the hearty chunky way I cook today. Gone are the tedious and tiny tidbits. Welcome, chunky and hearty veg.
What Vegetables are best?
While I am tempted to say you can’t go wrong, I can actually think of a couple that I might pass on. I love all vegetables that keep their shape and color. With this being a relatively quick cooking time, that would include most. Eggplant probably deserves a pass. It can get bitter and breaks down to a seedy, gummy mess. And I would avoid certain mushrooms that will absorb too much liquid and get squeaky. Know what I mean? Like a portabello. Tiny enoki might be nice in here though. In general, I prefer mushrooms in a more dry sauté dish or when pureed. Lastly, beets are going to bleed and will overly flavor the broth. But you do you, I’ll do me. Give it a whirl and see how you like it.
A Note on Prep Time Listed
In spite of 3 decades of foodstyling for television, where every ingredient is in its ramekin for a dump and stir demo, and despite 15 years as a chef/restaurateur, where all mise en place (prepped ingredients) are ready in the reach-in for cooking during service, I do not cook that way at home, nor should you. It takes a lot more time to get everything ready for dump and stir. I’m not saying you shouldn’t pull all your ingredients together in advance. However, if an onion is going to cook until golden for 12 minutes, I don’t chop the next ingredients until I get that on the burner cooking. I prep as I go. Multi-task anyone? The prep time I give in a recipe is just the minimal prep time required in order to start cooking. Once cooking commences, I start the count-up clock to track how long it takes to finish the recipe. There will be some prep during the cooking time. You may note that the ingredient list calls for the items to be already prepped (e.g., 1 cup diced zucchini). I have detailed it this way simply to space-save on a recipe printout. Don’t think you need to get it all done before you start. The more you know 🙂
This hearty, healthy vegetable soup will get you through until the farmers’ markets are cranking out peak of the season produce again. A dollop of pesto will brighten the flavors and get you jonesin’ for sweet summer corn and tomatoes.
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided per below
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
3/4 pounds mini potatoes, such as Boomer Gold, cut in half or quarters depending on size
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 pounded winter squash, such as butternut or acorn, peeled and diced
2 32-ounce chicken or vegetable stock
1 medium zucchini, trimmed and diced
1 medium yellow squash, trimmed and diced
1 15.5-ounce can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 pound shelled edamame, lima beans, or peas
1 pound frozen, chopped spinach
1 pound sweet corn
1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Optional Garnish: Dollop with pesto
In an 8-quart stock pot, heat two Tablespoons olive oil over high heat. Add the leeks and cook until wilted and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Push to the side and add the remaining Tablespoon of olive oil. Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Stir potatoes and leeks to combine.
Add the carrots and winter squash. Stir to combine.
Add about one cup of the stock, to deglaze the pan, scraping up the brown bits. Add the zucchini and yellow squash and remaining stock. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat. Simmer for 30 minutes. Check the doneness, especially for potatoes and squash.
Add the cannellini beans, tomatoes, edamame (or lima or peas), spinach and corn. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Top with a dollop of pesto (recipes linked below).
Optional: add 1 pound cooked chopped chicken, about 2 cups. Yield will be higher, if chicken is added.
If any of the vegetables you are using are commercially frozen, check to see if they are par-cooked. If so, you may want to add them toward the end with the quick cooking ingredients like corn and spinach.
If freezing, I like to wait to add seasoning until later when I serve it. I also find I may need to add a bit more stock if it’s been frozen.
Prep time in the recipe includes only the time needed to get cooking. You can continue prepping while the first step is cooking. While total time accurately reflects the total time required, the prep time is the shortest time til you fire up the stove, not the time required to prep all ingredients to their ready-to-use state.
Where are we going with this weather? It’s hot. It’s cold. It’s frigid. There are crocuses. Croci? I tested this recipe a mere week ago and the winds were howling at 65mph+++. I thought my house was going to slide down the dune. My pot rack was rocking. After finding a flashlight – because I just KNEW my power would go out – I started grabbing cans of beans, tomatoes, paste, etc. and this lonely butternut squash. I figured I could survive quasi-indefinitely with a “walk-out” (refrigerator) and a gas stove. When I ultimately tucked in by the fire, I had supreme satisfaction – I beat the power outage and this chili was damn delicious! Plus there was plenty left to freeze for those nights when you know you will get in super late and you just want something to eat in a jiff. Pull it out in the morning and thaw all day in the fridge.
You could make squash chili with any squash – I had a butternut on hand – but Hubbard, acorn, Kabocha, pumpkin or other winter squashes will work well, too. I like butternut because it’s more bang for the buck in the peeling-effort-to-flesh ratio. It has a smaller cavity so that you don’t loose a lot to seeds and air. You get the yield you need with only one medium butternut. At about 2 1/2 pounds, I got 7 cups of diced squash.
I took my time with the onions browning. Since there is no meat, I wanted to caramelize the onions to help with the depth and layers of flavor. You could also roast the squash to bring out even more caramelization, but I was racing the power supply and didn’t want to be beholden to an electric oven. There are also some bonus points for going one-pot, right?
In addition to browning the onion, I always toast the spices for this kind of dish. If you don’t, you miss a big opportunity to add flavor. Stirring raw spices into liquid does not give the same depth of flavor as when you take a moment to toast them. For whole spices, I toast, then grind. Today I am using ground spices, so I just add them to the hot pan once the onions are browned, and let them cook for about a minute or two. You want to have your liquid – in this case vegetable stock – nearby so you can stop the cooking quickly. It’s a baby step from toasted spice to scorched.
I added some of the usual suspects as toppers, but I think the real rock star here is the toasted garbanzo beans. You can buy them already toasted with a variety of spice blends. The crunch is the contrast this chili begs for. Tortilla chips or strips would do, as well. Chose a variety of color, textures and taste (creamy v spicy?) and trick it out the way you like it. Chef’s prerogative!
I’m filing this butternut squash chili recipe under D for Damn Delicious. The squash’s sweetness takes on smoked paprika, chili powder (brave enough to go Ancho?) and cumin – and wins. And the toasted garbanzo beans on top are the crunch this soup begs for.
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
1 Spanish onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons ground cumin
2 Tablespoons ground chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded and cubed (7 cups)
1 quart vegetable stock
6 ounce can tomato paste
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
3 16 ounce cans dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Tortilla strips or dried garbanzo beans
Greek yogurt or sour cream
Heat olive oil in an 8-quart stockpot. Add onions and cook until browned, about 12 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika and cayenne. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring.
Add squash and about 1 cup of vegetable stock. Scrape up the browned bits in the bottom of the pot. Add the remaining stock, tomato paste, tomatoes and their juices, and kidney beans.
Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender but not mushy, about 15 – 20 minutes.
Serve hot with assorted garnishes.
You can prep most of the ingredients while the onions are browning, so prep time shown is just to organize ingredients and chop the onions and garlic.
If you cut the squash lengthwise in half first, it is easier to peel. Using a sharp peeler, remove the skin, then scoop out the seeds. Your squash is ready to chop!
I can’t let #NationalSoupMonth roll by again without setting you up for another win. With only three types of onions and a couple of cans of tomatoes, this Cipolline Onion Soup will surprise you with its stick-to-the-ribs quality. Have you thought about having a Soup Pot Lucky yet? Trust me, it’s a great way to fill your freezer with soups in oh so many flavors. Traditionally, onion soups are topped with a crusty bread slice and some melty cheese. What’s wrong with that? Well, uh, nothing. But can it be better? Yes, it can! How about creating a “crouton” out of prosciutto topped with Gruyere and Parmesan that has taken its turn under the broiler. Oh yeah! I’m talking crispy pork and melty cheese. Game over!
Best Onions for Onion Soup
Onion soup is most commonly made with Vidalia or Spanish onions, and there’s nothing wrong with that. They both bring a certain level of sweetness which provides a nice layered flavor when offset by the wine used to deglaze the pan. But I recently spied some boxes of cipolline onions from our friends at Melissa’s at my local grocery. Yaaas! I bought a mixture of cipolline, some large Spanish onions and a few shallots for this soup. When picking cipolline, like other root vegetables, choose onions that are firm and show no signs of moisture, green shoots, or dark spots. Humidity is no BFF to onions or garlic, so it’s best to store them outside the fridge in a cool place to extend their life. If you are worried about peeling all those small flat cipollines – or if you ever have shied away from pearl onions just because of the peeling process – check out my notes in the first step of the recipe below.
With all the sweetness from the three types of onions, I chose port wine to deglaze the pan. Adding a liquid to the pan after caramelizing the onions makes it easy to scrape up all those flavorful brown bits stuck in the pan. Don’t leave that behind! We work hard for that fond. You could also use a red wine in this recipe, but port is fortified and adds a robust depth of flavor, elevating simple ingredients to something more sublime.
Once you brown the onions, the rest is pretty much a dump and simmer recipe. It takes some time – an hour of simmering – to reduce the liquid and develop the rich flavors, but you just need to throw a little side-eye in the pot’s direction from time to time. It doesn’t need your full attention.
Swap Your Top
I love the idea of replacing a soggy – although admittedly tasty – blob of bread with a crispy prosciutto crust on top of the onion soup. Just fold a piece of prosciutto to double it up, then top with grated Gruyere and Parmesan and run it under the broiler. You will NOT be sorry.
Trim, peel and slice thinly. To peel the cipolline onions easily, trim the root end and drop in boiling water for 2 minutes, then transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking. Spread the cipollines out on a towel to dry. The skin should slip off quite easily at this point. To make slicing more stable, cut the cipollines in half from root to stem and lay cut side down on a cutting board. Slice cross-wise into half rings.
Divide butter between two heavy-bottom stockpots (or one stockpot and one large skillet). Likewise, divide both kinds of onions and the shallots between the pans, and sauté until deeply golden brown, about 20 – 25 minutes.
Deglaze the pans:
Divide the port between pans, and reduce until almost evaporated, scraping up brown bits. Transfer all onions to one stockpot.
Add tomatoes and simmer 5 minutes.
Puree 2 cups of the onion-tomato mixture with 2 cups beef stock and add puree back to stockpot. Alternatively, add 2 cups beef stock to the pot and pulse with an immersion blender a couple times to thicken the mixture, while leaving lots of texture in tact. Add remaining beef stock, thyme and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Fold each prosciutto slice in half and arrange on a foil-lined sheet pan. Sprinkle with Gruyere and about half the Parmesan. Melt the cheese until bubbly and the prosciutto starts to crisp under the broiler.
Divide the soup between bowls and float a prosciutto on each bowl. Sprinkle lightly with remaining Parmesan and top with chopped parsley.
I divided the onions into two pans while browning to increase the cooking surface area. This will prevent sweating (instead of the intended browning) the onions which happens when you do too many at once. If you want to keep this to one pot, you could also do this in batches.
If you are not a fan of prosciutto, you can old-school it with toasted baguette slices topped with the cheeses and popped under the broiler. And if you are vegan, skip the butter in favor of olive oil, use vegetable stock, and ditch the toppings altogether. The soup has layered flavors and is yummy with or without the toppings.
Prep Time:20 minutes
Cook Time:1 hour 45 minutes
Here are some other great soups to fill your freezer. I make a big pot almost every Sunday and freeze most of it in 2-4 portion containers so that I always have a half-dozen flavors on demand. Just take it out in the morning and put it in the fridge to thaw, and you will be set for a hearty dinner when you get home.
It’s last call for #NationalSoupMonth, and we are in the final countdown for Super Bowl LI. It seems like a good time to crack out a recipe I did for Cutty Sark Scotch – a Super Bowl campaign that involved scotch-laden wings, pigs, Kick Off Chili, cheesy bread bowls and more. Over the years, I have done more than my share of recipe development for liquor companies, but I am always particularly happy to do culinary recipes that go beyond the bar.
Sometimes the categories are wide open and I am on my own to get uber creative, and sometimes every last ounce of energy goes into meeting the numerous (inordinate?) parameters the client has identified. And other times, it’s a technical culinary challenge: find the perfect moment to add the alcohol. Add it too early and it cooks off with nary a trace; too late and it can be bitter or boozy. And, bitter and boozy is exactly what the messenger is thinking of me, when he rolls up with yet another bottle of my client’s elixir. It’s a dirty, rotten job, but somebody’s got to do it!
I have a little bit of a soft spot for Cutty Sark – my mother sometimes drank it….”Cutty and soda with a twist, for the lady,” my father would order. But not until this job did I consider adding it to chili. It is a remarkable improvement. The peaty flavors of scotch add a real depth of flavor and complexity that make this dish more than the sum of its parts. You can experiment with other brands or even other types of whisky, but like I said……the job………my mom….Cutty is what I always reach for.
You have let me know how fond you are of dump and stir recipes, so after the posole recipe, I figure I owe you. This chili is a snap to make. Other than draining the beef after browning, there is no heavy lifting. You will note that I am light on seasonings here – using all these convenience (read: canned) products means you are going to get more than your fair share of sodium. Personally, I have moved toward using low or no-sodium stock for most soups these days, but it’s the Super Bowl people….all bets are off!
This soup is perfect for a party. Make a tray of toppings and let guests add their favorites. #TouchDown
This is a spin on a recipe I once developed for Cutty Sark, as part of a Super Bowl campaign. The complex layering and depth of flavor which result from adding scotch to this dish have made it my go-to recipe when making a hearty winter chili.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 1/2 pounds ground round
3 Tablespoons chili powder
3 Tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes, and their juices
3 16-ounce cans dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
14.5 ounce can beef broth
3/4 cup Cutty Sark Scotch Whisky
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
Toppings and Serving Suggestions:
Warm Flour or Corn Tortillas
Heat oil over medium heat in a large stockpot. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté an additional 2 minutes.
Turn burner to high heat and add ground round, breaking into large chunks. Cook until browned, about 10 – 12 minutes; drain off any liquid.
Add chili powder, cumin, and cayenne and stir for 1 – 2 minutes to toast spices.
Add tomatoes, beans, beef broth, scotch, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:1 hour 10 minutes
Category:Soups & Stews
Cuisine:South of the Border
It’s the last day of #NationalSoupMonth and Super Bowl is fast approaching – so shout it out!
I have been hankerin’ for a soup swap for years now. But only since I started this blog did it actually happen. Consider this my second post – after the sausage-making party – in my series on How to Get Pot Luck-y. Like the sausage event, as the kids are calling it, the soup swap is a party that sort of plans itself. Sure, there is a bit of organization involved, but in the end, set up and prep (and even investment, for that matter) is minimal, and every one leaves fat and happy. It’s a great way to entertain without having to do all the heavy lifting tout seul, solo, by your lonesome.
I used to hear “pot luck” and think it was a bad thing. Cringe a little. I certainly wasn’t going to host one. Maybe too much ego. Surely too much ego – “I can do it all!!!” I just didn’t get it. A random mishmash of food that doesn’t go together and is of questionable food safety. I was in Michigan for years before I understood the concept of “a dish to pass” – I still can’t quite explain it. There IS no passing. But Pot Lucky – that’s quite different. Host a party with a theme and offer suggestions for contributions and watch the magic happen. And the bonus of a soup swap is you get all of the above, PLUS a freezer full of soups …….THAT YOU DIDN’T EVEN HAVE TO MAKE!
Disclaimer (lest you think I am a food snob): I am fully aware that there is often anxiety with inviting me to dinner – for no damn good reason, I’d like to say. Despite the fact that my friend Cindy runs ahead swearing that burgers are my favorite food group, I rarely get invited out. Big mistake, people. I am a grateful guest – perhaps more so because I know what entertaining entails. I’m not judgmental; I’m uber thankful. I save all the judgement for restaurants lacking (or completely missing) hospitality. We all have PhDs in whether or not we are being treated well and bad service is inexcusable, especially when you are paying for it. Even if the food is off – it happens – well-trained staff will have you feeling like a million bucks by the time you leave. But complain about a home-cooked meal??? Not on your life.
So how to Soup Swap?
There are many ways it can happen – like a cookie swap – everyone brings two quarts, leaves with two quarts; brings 4….leaves with 4. Or bring X leave with X and no minimum required. I, probably because I am a bit co-dependent, chose to have everyone bring one quart for every soup swapper – N minus one to dole out; the last one to share. (I hope Mrs. Holler is happy I am using my algebra). This way nobody is staring at their creation being the last one picked. No 5th grade volleyball anxiety! Probably the hardest part of this method is to get an advance commitment so everyone knows what N is. For my Pot Lucky, N equaled 6. Some of the swappers were teams – so they had to thumb-war over how to divide 5 quarts! One couple each brought a soup so they took home two quarts of every flavor. Toward the end, I included a few people that didn’t want to cook and were happy to just come and have a taste.
Justin’s Fabulous Shrimp-Free Cannellini Bisque
For this, my maiden voyage, I called in a ringer – a fellow foodie who was as excited as I about the party theme and, on top of it, a recent graduate of a Culinary School. He was there to add some cred to the gathering. He was also there to NOT FORGET the shrimp that was his killer soup garnish. Sigh. His soup was phenomenal regardless – if it weren’t for my labels, nobody would have known. In fact all the soups were phenomenal. The Chicken Corn Chowder incorporated bacon, chicken and corn raised and grown by the soup-maker. That IS Pot Lucky!! My only instructions were “no can + can + can” soups and “NO VELVEETA.” It definitely helps to invite friends who like to cook.
There was minimal planning – I coordinated soup choices to eliminate dupes and make labels (which included “made-on” dates) – and minimal set up: everyone got one mug, one spoon and one napkin. Y’all are on your own from here. And everyone took charge of heating and serving their own soups. I made a big salad and had some crusty breads and cheeses on hand. Oh, and plenty of wine. And in the spirit of Pot Lucky, there were a couple guests that stayed a bit later and loaded the dishwasher. Bless you.
All I really had to do in advance was make my own six quarts to share and swap. Being a bit of stickler for that food safety thing, I chilled my two pots of soup in large bowls with ice water, changing the water and adding ice til the pots were down to 45 degrees. Even when cooking single batches, I will fill the sink with ice water and make sure to drop the temp so that the soup/sauce/etc. is cold before transferring to freezer containers. Muy importante! Most guests froze their 5 give-away quarts and brought them in coolers that we left outside til the end when the swapping happened. Remember that above all this is a party (one that fills your freezer, thank you very much!), not a military drill, so be flexible. Have fun! Let your guests get involved! Relax and let the night roll out as it will. For a first attempt, I will deem this a success. “Green mints were served and a good time was had by all.”*
Brett & Christy’s Vichyssoise; My CaribBean One Pot Wonder with pineapple salsa
Here’s my recipe for the CaribBEAN (bah dum bum – I’ll be here all week) One Pot Wonder. Everyone loves this soup – it’s so hearty and satisfying, but doesn’t leave you overstuffed like chili tends to. It’s also got a great dose of flavor, chocked full of ginger and jalapeno. And it could not be easier or faster. Really.
Like all quick cook techniques, it’s key to use quality ingredients: pork loin or tenderloin and quality beans. I’ve been using Bush’s Best for more than a decade and it’s a bean that holds its shape and comes out of the can intact, not mushed at the bottom, without absorbing the brine it’s canned in and without the overly salty, muddy taste of a lesser bean. It is all I ever use. I wish you could see my pantry – it looks like Super Target.
I love the texture contrast of the pork with the sweet potatoes but this dish could stand alone if you are pork-adverse, or it would also work well with chicken or a sturdy fish. Adjust cooking times accordingly. The garnish is totally optional, but the fruity topper is a great balance to the gingery heat of the soup.
Katy’s Soup to Swap: CaribBean One Pot Wonder
1 pound sweet potato, about 2 medium potatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons minced ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 jalapeno, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 pound pork loin, trimmed and cut in 1/2” pieces
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 16-ounce cans Bush’s Best Dark Red Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
1 14 ½-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 14 ½-ounce can chicken broth
Serving Suggestion: Garnish with a spoonful of salsa made from 1 cup chopped pineapple, 2 sliced scallions, and 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro. Serve with hot sauce.
Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and microwave on high for 6 – 8 minutes until tender, but not fully cooked. Set aside. When cool enough to handle, peel and cut into ½-inch dice.
Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot. Add the ginger, garlic and jalapeno and sauté until soft, about 2 minutes.
Add the celery, green pepper, and onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Season the pork with the cumin, salt, and black pepper. Push the vegetables to one side of the stockpot and add the pork, browning on all sides.
Add Bush’s Best Dark Red Kidney Beans, tomatoes, broth, and sweet potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 – 30 minutes, or until the pork is tender. Taste, and adjust seasonings.
Serve with pineapple cilantro salsa and hot sauce, if desired.
Makes 3 quarts and serves 8
Next Pot Lucky: BYOPT – bring your own pizza toppings. Stay tuned.
*Show of hands (read: click on the link below and comment): Back in the day, did your hometown paper finish every wedding story with “green mints were served and a good time was had by all?”