Chicken Bean Chili – Turn Down the Lights!

13 Dec

I am sniffling and sneezing.  My eyes are burning and I yearn to breathe, smell and taste.  I have been sick for the past couple of days and this is not a good time to be sick.  Not that there is ever a good time to be sick.  Although I guess it would be better than next week.  We will drive up to CT for a friend’s wedding and to visit our family for the holidays.  So I suppose if I were to be sick this weekend would be better than the following weekend. Being sick reminds me of chicken noodle soup.  I love my moms soup, but I have discovered a new soup that is very easy to put together and I think you will have fun coming up with your own interpretation.

chicken soup

Our culinary friends, Meryl and Matt, shared this recipe with us when we joined them for dinner a couple of weeks ago.  I loved it so much I had to have the recipe.  Meryl found the recipe on a site called You’veGotSupper which assists you in planning your meals and your shopping list for the week.  I don’t really follow the recipe but if you would like to make it their way check it out Chicken Chili.

I love cooking because it is a way for me to be creative and I love feeding people, and myself.  I really do enjoy feeding people.  It is definitely something I get from my mother and she got it from her mother.  I think I am beginning to see a pattern here.  About 5 minutes after walking into my mother’s house she will usually ask you if you are hungry or if you want something to eat.  Now, if she is already eating or about to eat, you have no choice but to join her.

When I make this recipe it will produce enough soup (or you can think of it as a chili) for about three or four bowls.  Usually enough for my husband and I to have for dinner and the extra bowl he eats for lunch the next day.

Start out with an onion.  I usually slice it in half then I slice each half three times from the side and about 4 times from the top.  Now chop over the slices you just made and you should have a nice chopped onion.  You will only need half of the onion for this recipe.

Lets stop for a moment and appreciate the onion.  The oldest vegetable known to man.

And what a fine vegetable it is.

Without the onion, our food would be a little bland.

Of course there are many other items we need to flavor our food, but the onion starts the foundation to a great dish

Now that you have chopped your onion grab some garlic.

How many cloves do you ask?  Well, what kind of relationship do you have with garlic?  I usually read the ingredient list and take the measurements and quantities as a suggestion and make up my own interpretation.

For this recipe I use three – four cloves depending on my mood and the size of each clove.  Chop your garlic well and place in a bowl while you prepare the rest of your mis en place.

For a little added spicy-ness and flavor, use a fresh green chile.  You can also use the canned chile or not use it all – it is really up to you.

Slice it in half and carve out the white stuff and the seeds.

Flatten the halves on the board by pressing them down before you start slicing.  Turn them over so that the shiny smooth side is on the board.  The other side is more course so it will be easier to slice rather than the smooth slick side.

Slice and dice.

This time  I used Red Pepper, Cumin and Rosemary.  With a dish like this you can really switch up the seasoning as often as you like.  Use spices you like or experiment with new ones.

I also used a dash or two of this stuff.  It is really good stuff.

and you can’t forget this stuff.  But use it sparingly. When salting something that will cook for a while you want to use as little or none in the beginning and more towards the end.  The longer the soup simmers, the more pronounced the salt will be.

Heat your pan, pour a little olive oil in it and sauté your onion, garlic and chile.

Add your seasoning to the pan and let it sizzle.

I find the longer you cook down your seasoning, more of the natural flavor is drawn out and therefore your food benefits from the sweetness of the Cumin and the spicy-ness of the Red Pepper.  After you have cooked the onion and garlic mixture for a few minutes, stirring often so you don’t burn anything, go ahead and add in the rest of the ingredients:

2 cans of beans.  You can really use one or two cans.  And depending on your bean preference you may choose different beans every time.  This time I used one can of Northern White Beans, and one can of Kidney Beans.

I shredded two chicken breasts leftover from the Roasted Chicken we ate the night before.

and the stock.  Turn the heat down so your soup/chili is simmering and walk away.

Turn down the lights, walk away for a while and let the magic happen.

The longer it simmers the more flavorful it will be.  But, if you let it simmer too long then you are somewhat reducing the soup and it will start to lose some of the liquid.  If you left it alone for too long and you would like more liquid just add more stock to it and let it simmer for a little longer on higher temp.

Not too high, and too long.  Just long enough for the added stock to distribute within the existing ingredients and to capture some of your flavors.  Otherwise your soup might taste a bit watered down and we would not want to eat watered down soup.

To plate this lovely dish, grab your bowl and place some cheese in the center of the bowl.  I used a hearty Pecorino, but you can really use whatever cheese you like.  Another reason why I like this recipe is for it’s versatility.  You can rely make it your own based on what you like.

And of course – you can put more cheese on top as well.

Next time I think I shall try adding wild or black rice.


3 Responses to “Chicken Bean Chili – Turn Down the Lights!”

  1. patrick December 21, 2009 at 11:43 am #

    LOVE this recipe. I like your moody garlic measurements!!!

  2. Sersa January 11, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

    Made this recipe tonight, very yummy and easy to make. And we actually skipped the cheese because we didn’t have any it still was very good.

    • Natasha January 11, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed it!

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