Tuesday, October 19, 2010

When the weather starts to turn chilly, I make soup.

Taking a large stockpot, I just sauté some veggies, chicken or beef, cover with stock and let the pot simmer.

Making soup also is a good excuse to clean out the fridge, which is what happened to me the other day. We had a bunch of different vegetables. I didn’t want to waste them. But, if I didn’t do something soon, they would end growing fuzzy mold in the bottom of my fridge.

Soup was the easy answer.

I thought of the Latin flavors the kitchen staff at my previous restaurant used to make family meal. This meal is eaten an hour or so before customers start arriving. It’s a time to take a quick break - if you aren’t in the weeds - share in staff camaraderie and fill up your belly to make it through the next several chaotic hours.

In Baltimore, Md., I worked with several Spanish guys in the kitchen. It was always fun to talk to them in Spanish…albeit a broken language on my part, which I had learned in college and from my time spent in the back of the house. Often, my amigos would take turns making family meal. It was amazing what they would throw together. Suddenly, you would be happily slurping down a spicy rice bowl filled with cilantro, cumin, jalapenos, chunks of meat and various vegetable scraps. It was good!

My soup reminded me of my amigos back in the states. I was resourceful and used what I had to yield an aromatic and a lil' spicy soup for dinner.

This soup recipe easily can be adapted to what you have on hand at home. Don’t let the long ingredient list stop you. Just adjust the flavors and vegetables to your liking.

Afiyet Olsun!

Spicy Autumnal Soup
2          T.         vegetable oil
1 ½      #          beef stew meat or “büyük dana kuşabaşı
2          T.         All-purpose flour

2-3       T.         vegetable oil
1          ea.        medium yellow onion, ¼-inch diced
2-3       ea.        carrots, peeled, ¼-inch diced
3-4       ea.        garlic cloves, chopped small
2          ea.        green pepper, ¼-inch diced

½         tsp.      cumin, ground
½         tsp.      chili powder
¼         tsp.      ancho chili powder
¼         tsp.      chipotle powder
¼         tsp.      cayenne powder
1          ea.        bay leaf

2          ea.        tomatoes, seeded, ½-inch diced
3          ea.        medium-sized potatoes, ½-inch diced
1          sm.       celery root, peeled, ½-inch diced
1          ea.        Japanese eggplant, ½-inch diced
4          ea.        roasted, seeded, peeled, Turkish red peppers, ½-inch diced
3          c.         water
1          T.         bouillon beef powder
(Substitute beef stock for the water and bouillon mixture)
6          oz.       dry red wine

1. In a large bowl or in a sealed plastic bag, mix the beef with the flour to coat.
2. Heat the first amount of oil in a 6 to 8-quart stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook until well browned, turning the pieces to color all sides. Remove from the pot.
3. Add the remaining oil in the same pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, garlic and green pepper, sautéing until the vegetables start to sweat and become soft.
4. Next, add the spices. Stir for one minute.
5. Add the tomatoes, potatoes, celery root, eggplant and red peppers. Stir to cook for a few minutes. Then add the meat. Cover the soup base with the water, bouillon beef powder and red wine.
6. Bring the soup to a slight boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer gently for about 1 to 1 ½ hours, until the beef is tender. Stir occasionally.
7. Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with cilantro or chopped green onions. 

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