Slow cooker chicken chocolate chili 

Makes about 12 cups

From The unexpected upsides of unemployment

For the chili

  • 6 oz. dried black beans – soaked overnight
  • 6 oz. dried pinto beans – soaked overnight
  • 2 lbs skinless boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 28oz. can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes (you can use regular tomatoes if fire-roasted are not available)
  • 1 bottle of Guinness stout, extra stout or another stout beer (and if you can find chocolate stout terrific!)
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro, divided in half
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • A 1 lb butternut squash, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest
  • 2 TBSP masa harina or very finely ground cornmeal plus 3-4 TBSP hot water, mixed to make a slurry
  • 2 ½ TBSP Spice Mix (see below)

Spice Mix

People argue about their preference of chili powders and heat level as much as their politics. I like a little heat, but firmly believe that food should not hurt. Naturally my choices of ground chilies reflect that, and this recipe is on the mild side. I love ancho for its fruity nature, new mexico chilies for heat that won’t blow the back of your head off, and the smoky spiciness of smoked Spanish paprika pimenton. When I’m serving this to company, I’ll serve some roasted green chilies or some hot salsa on the side so those who like more heat can add it in themselves.

  • 1 TBSP  salt
  • 1 TBSP chili powder
  • 1 TBSP ground cumin
  • 1 TBSP ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp New Mexico chili powder
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp hot pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika)
  • ½ tsp ground coriander

Mix all of the spices together until fully blended. This makes more than you’ll need for the recipe, so just keep the extra in a jar for the next time, or when you want a little spice on chicken, meat, or fish.

Put the chicken in a sealable bag and add in a heaping TBSP of the spice mix. Knead the bag so all of the chicken is covered with the mix. Put in the fridge to sit for at least an hour.

When you are ready to make the chili, heat 1 TBSP olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat and brown the chicken. You may have to do this in two batches so the chicken isn’t crowded. Once the chicken is browned, remove it to a plate, turn heat to low and add ¼ cup of the beer to deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits stuck to bottom of pan. Turn off the heat and add back in the chicken and any juices. Let sit until you’re ready to add to the slow cooker.

Drain and rinse the soaked dry beans and put into the slow cooker. Add in the onion, garlic, squash, chicken, pan juices you just deglazed, the can of diced tomatoes and ¼ cup chopped cilantro. Mix everything together so all the ingredients are well distributed. Add in the remaining beer and ½ cup of water, then the chopped chocolate and 1 1/2 TBSP of the spice mix. Mix well again. The liquid should be up to the top of the ingredients but not covering. If you need more liquid, add a little more water.

Set the slow cooker to high for 6 hours. At 5-½ hours remove the chicken, shred it with 2 forks and add back into pot. Make a slurry from the masa and hot water, add to the pot and mix well. Let the chili cook another 30 minutes to thicken the sauce a little. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper if needed. Add in the other ¼ cup of chopped cilantro and stir. Calories: about 265 per cup.

As with any stew, chili is always better a day or two later, so this is the perfect recipe to do ahead, and it freezes beautifully. When I’m making it for a crowd, I keep it warm in the slow cooker and set it out with a stack of bowls, garnishes and honey sage cornbread and everyone can serve themselves.

Garnishes Here’s some that I like – feel free to add in your favorites.

  • Grated bittersweet chocolate
  • Finely chopped red onion, soaked in ice water about 15-30 minutes (takes some of the sharpness out of onion and makes them crispy)
  • Chopped avocados
  • Shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or a combination of a sharp cheddar and jack or muenster)
  • Chopped roasted green chilies
  • Sour cream
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Tortilla chips
  • Pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds)
  • Lime wedges

Kartoffel Suppe (Mom’s Potato Soup)

From Out of Thin Air

Makes 10-11 cups

  • 5-6 cups peeled and cubed potatoes (russets are fine, I used those plus a few new potatoes I had on hand)
  • 1 ½ cups chopped onion (about 1 large)
  • ¾ cup chopped carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
  • ¾ cup chopped celery (2-3 ribs)
  • ½ cup chopped leeks (if you don’t have leeks, substitute scallions or additional onion)
  • 2 ounces diced pancetta or bacon
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 TBSP chopped parsley
  • 2 bouillon cubes (chicken, beef or vegetable)
  • 1 ½ tsp olive oil
  • 1 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ TBSP soy sauce
  • ¼ – ½ tsp white pepper (to taste)
  • Salt to taste

Optional additions: Sliced cooked sausages, kielbasa, hot dogs, or cubed ham

Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add pancetta or bacon, onions, leeks, carrots, celery and a good pinch of salt, and sauté over medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften (about 6-8 minutes). Add garlic and sauté another minute just until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add potatoes, parsnips, parsley and enough water to cover (about 5 cups). Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook, covered, until the potatoes and vegetables are very soft (about 20 minutes). Once the vegetables and potatoes are soft, mash them with a potato masher. I like this soup to have a bit of texture, but if you like a finer soup, feel free to use a stick or regular blender and puree.  Add the bouillon cubes to 1-½ cups of hot water and mash a little with a fork. Add to soup pot, along with soy sauce and white pepper. Partially cover and simmer 30 minutes.

To finish:

Once the soup has cooked for 30 minutes, add in a tablespoon of unsalted butter, taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Slice in 2-3 cooked sausages, some kielbasa, hot dogs, ham, etc. (optional).

Calories per cup: about 160 with meat, 115 without meat.

Pasta Fagioli Makes 10-11 cups, which is plenty for you, friends, lovers, AND the pizza boy.

From That’s Amore Too…

Makes 10-11 cups, which is plenty for you, friends, lovers, AND the pizza boy.

This recipe is a quick and easy version, and one of my go-to winter soup recipes when I need a little pick-me-up and some culinary amore.

  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cans cannellini beans
  • ½ TBSP olive oil
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • ½ an onion, diced
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 oz. (1¼ cups) ditalini, small elbow macaroni or some other small pasta
  • 1 oz. piece of parmesan rind (optional, but great if you have it)
  • 2 TBSP chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan for sprinkling

Sauté all the vegetables in the olive oil and a pinch of salt in a stockpot until they begin to soften but not brown, about 5 minutes. Drain one can of the beans. When the veggies are ready, add half of the stock, the water, beans (one drained, one not), and parmesan rind to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 15 minutes. Uncover, add remaining stock and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender, about 9 minutes or however long the package says. Once the pasta is cooked, remove parmesan rind and stir in the chopped parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Calories: about 145 per cup.

To serve, ladle into bowls and sprinkle with grated parmesan. Now That’s Amore!

Carrot Cumin soup Makes about 4 cups

From What’s Up Doc

  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped about the same size as the onion and celery
  • 1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 ½ cups chicken stock (you could substitute vegetable stock)
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice (or just a pinch)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sour cream or yogurt for garnish

Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan until they become fragrant – be careful not to burn them (they go fast so don’t walk away from the pan.) Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and a pinch of salt and sauté about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, 1 teaspoon of the toasted cumin seeds (save the other ½ tsp for sprinkling over the top of the finished soup), and the pinch allspice. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until the carrots are very soft, about 20-25 minutes.

When the carrots are done (take one out and if they squish easily they’re done) turn the heat off under the pot.  Puree the soup in a blender in batches, or with a hand blender in the pot until completely smooth and velvety. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and a sprinkling of the reserved toasted cumin seeds. Calories: About 110 per cup.


From A Recipe for Compromise

Serves 8

  • ¾ lb flageolet, great northern or navy beans  (you want smaller beans than cannelli beans)
  • 4-5 TBSP duck fat, or if you can’t find rendered duck fat, olive oil
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • ¾ lb pork shoulder, cut into 1” cubes
  • 4 ounces pancetta (in one piece)
  • Bouquet garni = 2 sage leaves, 3 bay leaves, 4 sprigs thyme, 4 sprigs parsley
  • 1 14oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 1 lb garlic turkey sausage
  • 1 ½ -2 cups breadcrumbs

Rinse the beans and put into the slow cooker*(see adaptation if you don’t have a slow cooker at bottom of recipe.) Cut the head of garlic in half, keep the top half in one piece and peel and smash the cloves in the bottom half – you’ll be using them later. Melt 1 TBSP duck fat in 4-6 quart dutch oven or large deep saucepan (that can go in the oven).  Sauté the half the leeks, half the carrots, the half head of garlic and a good pinch of salt over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until soft and lightly golden. Cut about a ¾” piece off the pancetta (1 ounce) and add to the beans. Add the sautéed vegetables to the slow cooker and enough water to cover the beans by about 2 inches.  Cook on high setting for about 3-4 hours (start checking the beans at the 2 ½ hour mark – the beans should be tender but not mushy.) Once the beans are done, squeeze the garlic cloves out of the skins into the beans. Set the beans aside. (You actually could do this a day ahead and refrigerate if you wanted to, but my goal was a 1-day dish.)

Heat 1 TBSP duck fat (or olive oil) in the pot you used to sauté the vegetable for the beans. Salt and pepper the pork shoulder cubes and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add the pancetta and cook another 5 minutes until browned. Add the smashed garlic cloves to the pot, along with the remaining chopped carrot and leek. If you haven’t already, tie together the herbs for the bouquet garni (see ingredient list) and add to the pan with the can of tomatoes and their juices. Cook until liquid thickens, about 5-8 minutes. Add wine and reduce by half. Add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium low, and simmer uncovered until liquid has thickened, about an hour.

Heat oven to 300ºF. Add the beans and their liquid to the pot with the meat and mix well. Remove the bouquet garni. Cover the pot with the breadcrumbs. Heat the remaining 2 TBSP duck fat and drizzle over the breadcrumbs. Bake for 2 ½ – 3 hours, or until the breadcrumbs are browned and form a crust, and the stew is bubbling on the sides.Calories: Approximately 600 per serving.

[* If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can make the beans in a pot on the stove. Soak the beans overnight in 7-½ cups water – DO NOT DRAIN. Sauté the vegetable according to directions above. Add the beans, pancetta and the soaking water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 1 ½ hours or until beans are tender.]

REHEATING NOTE:  Since beans tend to keep soaking up the yummy goodness around them and get solid as they cool, reheated leftovers may be a little dry. Just add a little broth or water to the dish before you reheat and this shouldn’t be a problem.

Share this:

From An Ode to Dad, in Macaroni…

Chicken Thing 2012  Makes 3-4 servings

A new take on an old classic, sans the condensed cream of mushroom goo.

The chicken part:

  • 1 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ TBSP butter
  • ½ TBSP olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced onions
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 TBSP dry white wine or dry white vermouth
  • 1-cup low sodium chicken broth (if you use regular, decrease the salt and pepper above by half)
  • 2 ounces herb garlic goat cheese
  • 2 TBSP heavy cream
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice, plus another 2 tsp to add in at the end

The mushroom part:

  • 1 ½ cups sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 tsp butter
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

To thicken the sauce

  • 1 TBSP room temperature sour cream
  • 1 TBSP cornstarch
  • 2 TBSP cool/cold water

Heat the ½ TBSP butter and oil over medium high heat in a deep sauté pan. Mix the salt and pepper together and sprinkle over both sides of the chicken. Brown chicken thighs well on both sides and remove to a bowl. Drain all but 1 TBSP fat from the pan, set over medium-low heat and add the onions and a pinch of salt. Sauté until just soft, about 5 minutes. Add in rosemary and cook another 3 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally.

Add vermouth or wine, turn up heat and scrape the browned bits up as the liquid boils for a minute (in other words, deglaze the pan.) Add back in the chicken and any accumulated juices, the chicken broth, lemon zest, a tablespoon lemon juice, goat cheese and cream, stirring until the cheese is melted and incorporated into the sauce. Bring liquid to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cover.  Cook for about 25 minutes.

At about the 20-minute mark, melt a teaspoon of butter in a small nonstick pan. Add in the sliced mushrooms, a pinch of salt and sauté over medium high heat until the mushrooms are soft and a little browned, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms to chicken.

Mix together the cornstarch, sour cream and water. After the chicken has cooked 25 minutes, remove cover, add the sour cream mixture and bring chicken and sauce to a slow boil for 1-2 minutes, stirring well. The sauce will thicken quickly. Remove from heat; add in the remaining 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.

Serve over noodles, rice, or my favorite, steamed sugar snap peas or asparagus. Calories: about 385 per serving (3), 290 per serving (4).

Creamy Spinach Soup  Makes about 4 cups

From My Freezer is a Clown Car

I absolutely love the lemony fresh lightness of this soup. There’s usually a quart of it in my freezer towards the end of winter, especially when I need a little hit of early spring.

  • 1 ½ TBSP butter
  • ½ a small onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 slices day-old baguette or other white bread (don’t used sourdough, the flavor is too overpowering for this delicate soup)
  • 4 cups packed baby spinach (about 1 bag)
  • 1-2 TBSP goat cheese (whisked until smooth)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the onion and a pinch of salt in butter and oil over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add minced garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the broth and bread slices, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add spinach and continue to simmer until the spinach is wilted and bright green, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat.

Puree the soup in batches in blender, or in pot with hand blender until smooth. Add cream and lemon zest; season to taste with salt and pepper.  Reheat to serving temperature. If you like, drizzle a little more cream on top. I’ve also added a tablespoon of whisked goat cheese (just whisk until it’s a little smooth) when serving as a first course to company. Calories: about 100-125 per cup

Creamy Tomato Soup  Makes about 9-10 cups

From My Freezer is a Clown Car

This is as close as I’ve ever gotten to the tomato soup I loved as a kid (without opening a red and white can and ‘reconstituting’ the contents.) And with a grilled cheese sandwich for dipping, is there anything better?

  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • 2 28-ounce cans of tomato puree
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 TBSP cream cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter and oil in stockpot over low heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt and sweat for about 8-10 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle over the flour and stir for another 3 minutes.

Add in the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.

Turn off the heat. Puree the soup in batches in a blender, or in the pot with a hand blender until smooth. Add in the ground cloves, cream cheese and stir until the cream cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Calories: about 100 per cup.

Potato Leek Soup Serves 4

From My Freezer is a Clown Car

This soup comes together in 45 minutes, and you will be shocked at how creamy it is without a drop of cream added. Perfect for a casual dinner,  just serve with a green salad, some nice cheese, crusty bread and a glass of wine and you’ll be in spud-heaven!

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ lb leeks, well cleaned and finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 ¼ lb yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1-2 TBSP chopped fresh dill, or 1 tsp dried dill
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in large stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, leek, shallot and a good pinch of salt. Cover and sweat for about 10 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally.

Once the onion mix is soft, add the potatoes, dill and stock. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Turn off the heat and puree the soup in batches in the blender, or with a hand blender in the stockpot. Season with salt and pepper. Calories: about 100 per serving.

White bean, tomato and rosemary stew Serves 1-2

From The Virtue of Cheap and Easy

A can of beans and a can of tomatoes get classed up with a little fresh rosemary and some simmering. You could serve alongside roast chicken or a nice steak, under a lovely piece of fish, or on it’s own as a hearty vegetarian stew. Add some crusty bread, a salad and some wine and you have cheap and easy the classy way.

  • 1 can of cannellini beans with liquid (use the ready to serve kind, not salt-free )
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • ¾ tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • Some good olive oil and balsamic vinegar for drizzling

Sweat the chopped shallot in olive oil over medium heat, 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Add in the can of beans with their liquid, can of drained diced tomatoes, and chopped rosemary. Stir well, and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, cover partially and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove cover and simmer another 8-10 minutes to evaporate some of the liquid. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve with a drizzle of some good olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar. Calories: 275 per serving

French Onion Soup (from Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom, by Julia Child) Serves about 8

From Confessions of a cooking show addict

  • 2 quarts thinly sliced onions (I do this in my food processor with slicing disk – less weeping that way)
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 TBSP fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • 2 cups hot beef stock, plus 2 quarts (I’ve used all beef, or a combo beef and chicken)
  • ¼ cup cognac or brandy (don’t leave this out – it really makes a difference)
  • 1 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, slowly sauté over medium low heat 2 quarts thinly sliced onions, ½ tsp salt and thyme leaves in 3 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP olive oil until softened, about 20 minutes (you don’t want to add color at this point, just soften). Stir in ½ tsp sugar and sauté another 15-20 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Sprinkle 2 TBSP flour over onions and cook slowly, stirring for 2 minutes. Off heat, whisk in 2 cups hot beef stock and ¼ cup cognac or brandy. When well blended, stir in 2 quarts more stock and 1 cup wine or dry vermouth. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down, loosely cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make Onion Soup Gratinee

Slice a baguette into ¼ inch slices, spray with cooking spray or drizzle with oil and toast until they are hard, about 25-30 minutes at 325°F.  Line the bottom of individual crocks with the toasts and cover with a thin slice of swiss or gruyere cheese. Ladle the hot soup on top, then float another slice of toast, and top with some more cheese (you could thin slices of parmesan here too). Bake in a 450°F for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned. If you are serving this to a few people I’d use the oven as Julia recommends. If I’m making it just for myself, I put it under the broiler and keep a good eye on it – about 5 minutes should do. Calories: approximately 100/serving without the cheese and bread.



One thought on “Soups-Stews-Chili

  1. Pingback: My Freezer is a Clown Car (again) | cooking in my heels

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s