Archive for the ‘Soups and Chilies’ Category

White Bean and Hominy Chicken Chili

January 08, 2009

My large enormously heavy flame-orange enameled cast-iron Le Creuset pot is getting a workout these days. I’ve entered huddle mode. That is, I’m not doing much beyond huddling around steaming pots of soup, stew and chili. January in Minnesota will do that to you.

I’ve made three pots of soup in the last 2½ days with more on the way. Soups and chilies are my way of fighting the cold weather, the bad economic news and the latest world crisis. Tensions fade when you tuck into a warming bowl. Plus, having a stockpile of soup in the freezer may soon end up being worth more than stock certificates, if the latest Wall Street news is any indication.

Last night we sunk our spoons into White Bean and Hominy Chicken Chili. It’s a simple chili, basic but stick-to-the-ribs hearty. Best of all for those of us trying to take off holiday pounds, it’s low in calories—only 190 calories per serving. Perfect!

White Bean and Hominy Chicken Chili

Adding toppings is half the fun of eating chili. So pile on the chopped cilantro, sliced green onions, chopped serrano chiles and diced tomatoes. (For those of you lucky enough not to be counting calories go for the cheese, sour cream, avocados and chips—just don’t let the rest of us see you.)

If you’ve never used hominy before you’re in for a pleasant surprise. You can find it in the canned bean or vegetable section of the grocery store. It’s made from dried corn kernels from which the hull and germ have been removed. The canned version is ready to use. You’ll find the flavor of the chewy tender kernels reminiscent of corn tortillas.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
⅓ cup finely chopped shallots
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 (28 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 (15.6 oz.) can Great Northern or navy beans, undrained
1 (15.5 oz.) can white or yellow hominy, drained and rinsed
1 (14 oz.) can lower-sodium chicken broth
2 to 3 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1½ cups chopped cooked chicken breast

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and swirl to lightly film the bottom of the pot. Add the onions and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes or until they are just starting to soften. Stir in the shallots and cook for 1 minute then add the garlic and cook for about 15 to 30 seconds or until the garlic just starts to smell great.

At this point, stir in the rest of the ingredients except for the chicken and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low or low and gently simmer, stirring every now and then, for about 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken and cook another 15 minutes or until the flavors have blended.

5 (generous 1½ cup) servings
About 190 calories/serving

Copyright Janice Cole 2009

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

January 04, 2009

This rich creamy soup is made without cream! Rice is the secret ingredient that creates the smooth richness in this soup as it’s blended into a silky consistency. It’s delicately flavored with the Indian spices of garam masala and saffron. Garam masala is a spice blend fragrant with cinnamon, cloves, cumin and black pepper. It can be purchased in the spice aisle or the ethnic section of well-stocked supermarkets, Indian markets or you can create your own. The tastiest pumpkin to use is a sugar pumpkin, also called a pie pumpkin. They’re smaller than the large jack-o-lanterns. Butternut squash and other squash are tasty alternatives for the pumpkin.

1½ large onions, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
6 cups cubed pumpkin or butternut squash (1-inch)
1 (32 oz.) container lower-sodium chicken broth
1 sprig fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon garam masala or ground cinnamon combined with pinches of ground cloves and cumin
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of saffron threads, crushed
¼ cup basmati rice or white long grain rice
¼ cup plain yogurt (nonfat is fine)

Stir the onions and oil together in a large pot over medium heat until the onions are coated. Cover and cook 5 minutes to sweat the onions (the onions will glisten and be slightly softened). Uncover and cook 5 to 8 minutes or until the onions are golden brown, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring continually. Stir in the pumpkin.

Pour the chicken broth over the pumpkin and stir in the thyme, garam masala, salt, pepper and saffron. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in the rice and reduce the heat to medium-low or to the point where it maintains a gentle boil. Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and cook for 30 minutes or until the pumpkin and the rice are tender, stirring now and then.

If you have a hand blender (also called an immersion blender), use the hand blender to blend the soup in the pot until smooth. Otherwise, cool the soup to lukewarm and blend it in batches. Fill the blender container half to three-quarters full and pulse until the soup is smooth.

Whisk together ¼ cup of the blended soup with the yogurt. Stir half of the yogurt mixture back into the soup and reserve the remaining mixture for the garnish.

Serve the soup warm with a dollop of the yogurt mixture swirled in the center.

Serves 4 (1½ cup servings)