Soups, stews and chowders are the perfect winter food, although I love them all year round. Here’s an easy chowder recipe that I’ve been using as a main dish. It’s hearty enough to leave you satisfied on its own, but you could always add a slice of bread, or the tortillas that the recipe mentions.
I found the recipe on the Jamie Oliver website. The only changes I made were to use canned corn, to rinse the black beans before adding them, and serving with a dollop of yogurt. A number of people commented on the Jamie Oliver website that their soup was grey, so I think rinsing the beans first helped to avoid that.
This made quite a large batch, which was excellent for leftover lunches for several days.
What you need:
- 1/2 bunch cilantro stems
- olive oil
- 2 small onions, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2 sticks of celery, sliced
- 250 g cooked chicken breast
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
- 400 g tin of black beans, rinsed
- 750 ml organic chicken stock (or water and chicken bouillon)
- 1 fresh corn on the cob or 1 can Peaches and Cream corn
- 1 bay leaf
- cilantro greens
- Plain yogurt (optional)
- 2 corn tortillas (optional)
- 1 lemon
What you do:
- If you need to cook the chicken breast, flatten it a bit first by pounding it with a mallet, rolling pin or heavy frying pan. This will help it to cook uniformly, and you won’t have dried out or raw bits. Add a little olive oil to a frying pan, then add the salted chicken breast, sprinkling on a little chili powder if you want. Let it cook a few minutes per side until cooked through. Set aside to cool.
- Pick the cilantro leaves and set aside for garnishing. Finely slice the stalks. Peel and chop the onion and garlic, slice the celery finely.
- Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into a large saucepan and place it over a medium-low heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery and cilantro stalks, then sauté for about 10 minutes. The vegetables should soften but not brown.
- Add the cumin and cayenne to the pan and fry for about a minute. Add the black beans, chicken stock and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cut or shred the chicken breast and add it to the pot. Cut the corn kernels from the cob or use the corn from the can along with its liquid, and stir into the chowder. Allow to simmer for about 5 more minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the lemon juice. Serve with optional tortillas and a dollop of yogurt, and sprinkle with the cilantro leaves.
This is a flavourful, somewhat spicy, and quite healthy soup – a perfect storm for me.
I created this soup to use up some chicken stock and red peppers that I had in my fridge, as well as some fresh corn that a friend brought over. I’ve never made such a big batch of chicken stock, and ran out of room in my tiny freezer – this was a great way to use it up. It’s got roasted bell and poblano peppers, as well as a dried ancho chile pureed into the tomatoes – I think the anchos are what takes this recipe to the next level, and I will definitely use this strategy of adding flavour into recipes in the future.
This would be great topped with avocado, or cilantro, or some Mexican crumbling cheese. And a wedge of lime to squeeze in.
Just a word about the roasted peppers: I know that some people like to get rid of every trace of the skin by washing the peppers, but I like to keep little bits of the skin on. This way it reminds me of the amazing sauces I ate in Mexico. You always knew they were homemade and delicious if they had those flecks of black skin in them.
What you need:
- 1 dried ancho chile
- 1 – 398mL/14 oz fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper
- 1 poblano pepper
- olive oil
- 1/2 a large sweet onion, diced
- 1 chicken breast or 2 thighs (omit for vegetarians!)
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 – 425 grams / 15 oz can of pinto beans, drained
- 2 ears of fresh corn (substitute with peaches and cream canned corn – I don’t personally like frozen)
- 4-6 cups chicken broth (substitute vegetable broth)
- Mexican crumbling cheese
- hot sauce for those who like it
What you do:
- Roast the peppers over a gas stove or barbecue, turning frequently with tongs until all the skin is charred and black. Place in a container fitted with a lid until it cools a bit, 10-15 minutes.
- Roast the dry ancho chile very briefly over the flame, then remove the stem and seeds. Add this to a blender along with the can of tomatoes. Puree until smooth.
- In a large pot over a medium flame drizzle in a little olive oil (I use less than 1 tablespoon). Add the onions and cook, stirring from time to time, for a few minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another few minutes, but don’t let the garlic brown.
- Add the chicken, if you are using it, and let that cook for a few minutes before pouring in the broth and tomato/ancho mixture. Let this simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove the chicken and chop it up, then add it back to the soup.
- Meanwhile, remove the blackened skin from the peppers, then remove the stem and seeds. Chop the peppers, then add them to the soup.
- Drain and rinse the beans and add them to the soup. Cut the corn off the cobs and add that to the soup. Let this simmer for a few minutes, then season with salt and a little pepper to taste.
- Garnish with toppings of your choice.