Tag Archives: Soups and Stews

Cincinnati-Style Chili

I feel a little blasphemous writing about Midwestern chili on a blog titled “The Austin Gastronomist.”  Chili is the state dish of Texas after all!  Texans are rightly pround of their chili, but we could learn a thing or two from the adventurous Cincinnatians, who traditionally season their chili with cinnamon and cocoa powder.  This dish combines those sweet flavors with spicy peppers and smoky chili powder in a thick, hearty stew.

Cincinnatti-Style Chili
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion
2 bell peppers
1 jalapeno pepper
1 Serrano pepper
1 pound venison, bison, or beef chop
1/4 cup apple juice
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
pinch salt
1 tablespoon cornmeal

Chop onion and, wearing rubber gloves, seed and rib all peppers. Chop the bell peppers and mince the jalapeno and Serrano peppers. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat and add onions & peppers.  Stir occasionally and cook for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are tender and start to caramelize (turn brown in places).  Meanwhile, chop meat into bite sized pieces.  Add meat to caramelized veggies and cook for about 2 minutes, until meat begins to brown.  Add chili powder, paprika, cumin, cocoa powder, cinnamon, allspice, cayenne and salt to the pot, stirring to distribute; then pour in the apple juice and water.  Bring liquid to a boil, then turn heat to low.  Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.  Before serving, whisk in cornmeal to thicken chili.  Plate over mashed sweet potatoes, cornmeal mush, or serve traditional Cincinnatti style over spaghetti.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Although this chili was inspired by the Midwest, I  stayed true to my Texas roots by serving it over jalapeno cornmeal mush.  Next time I make this, I’m planning to take a cue from my friend Hilah and do it vegan by substituting mushrooms and beans for the meat.


Austin Beer Week: Texas Chili Pie

I made this chili pie in support of the Rangers’ first ever World Series appearance and so far it is working! (We’re winning game one of the series as I type.)  The idea for this recipe came from the concession food I liked to eat at Rangers games when I was a kid: frito pie!  This healthier, non-processed version combines a spicy  chili with hearty jalapeno cheddar corn bread.  Pure Texan comfort food!

If tomatoes and fresh beans were in season, I probably would have added them to the chili.  However, this version will satisfy the most picky Texas Chili enthusiasts since it has neither.  In celebration of Austin Beer Week, I used a whole bottle of Independence Brewing Company’s Austin Amber Ale in the chili, plus a half cup in the cornbread topper. The cornbread also features roasted corn and jalapeno peppers plus local cheddar cheese for added flavor and  texture.  You could skip those ingredients in a pinch, but the pie wouldn’t be nearly as rich and tasty!  I adapted the cornbread recipe from The Beer Wench‘s “Some Like it Hot” cornbread.  If you’re interested in gourmet brew, check out her website, it’s very cool.

One last thing: both the chili and the cornbread work as stand-alone recipes.  However, I think the presentation of the pie is really special.  Just like game day food should be! I hope you enjoy this easy and tasty Texas Chili Pie as much as we did, and let’s go Rangers!!

Texas Chili Pie (serves 6)

1 lb. ground venison, beef, or turkey
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 bottle Austin Amber Ale
2 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 ear sweet corn
1 fresh jalapeno pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour (n.b. I tried this with whole wheat and it wasn’t good)
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Austin Amber Ale
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten

In a heavy bottomed pan, brown meat over medium heat, adding a little oil if it’s very lean, stirring occasionally. While meat is browning, chop onions, garlic, peppers, and cilantro and add to pan. Stir the meat mixture and break up any large clumps of meat. Once onions are translucent and meat is broken up, pour in the beer and stir.  Add paprika, chili powder, cumin and salt.  Allow chili to stew, uncovered, for about half an hour while you prepare the cornbread topping.

For the cornbread: First, cut corn off the cob and mince jalapeno pepper.  Roast corn and pepper in a skillet over high heat with a little olive oil until some kernels of corn are brown.  Set aside to cool.  Whisk together flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Add milk, beer, and egg and stir until just combined. (Lumps are okay.)  Finally, fold in shredded cheese, corn, and peppers.  Set aside and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Back to the chili: stir in cornmeal one tablespoon at a time until chili thickens to desired consistency.  After two tablespoons of cornmeal, mine was as thick as juicy taco meat, just how I like it!  Remove chili from heat and carefully pour it into a 1.5 quart casserole dish.  Gently pour cornbread batter on top of the chili.  Using potholders, put the casserole in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes, until cornbread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Garnish chili pie with fresh sliced jalapenos, diced onions, sour cream and cilantro.  Cheer for the Rangers!!

Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.

Roasted Eggplant Soup & Big News!

You guys, I have big news!! This is the first of a series of posts sponsored by Greenling, my favorite purveyor of local and sustainable foods here in Austin.  In exchange for a discount on my weekly grocery order, I’ll be posting recipes on the Greenling Local Blog that feature ingredients from their local box. I’m joining the fantastically talented Steph Cooks on the blog, plus Greenling owner Mason Arnold, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be in such great company!!

Without further ado: Roasted Eggplant Soup!

Like most everyone in Austin, my allergies are terrible this time of year.  This comforting soup always makes me feel better when I’m sniffly, plus the recipe is easy to adapt according to the vegetables I have on hand.  I’ve experimented by adding some combination of potatoes, apples, leeks, carrots, or mushrooms to this basic recipe with good results. Whatever variety of produce I use, the basic ratio of ingredients remains about 1 cup of liquid for each 1 cup of roasted veggies.

The fall allergy season is going to last at least another month, and we’ll need some more comforting recipes to get through it. What’s your favorite soup when you’re feeling under the weather?

Roasted Eggplant Soup
2 small eggplants, quartered
3 tomatoes, quartered
1 bulb garlic (about 9 cloves), top cut off
1/2 white onion, halved
Olive Oil
1/2  cup hard apple cider or white wine
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbs. fresh parsley, minced
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy cream (skip it if you’re vegan– the soup’s great without it)

Preheat oven to 400°F and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.  Place eggplant, onion, tomatoes, and garlic flesh side up on the cookie sheet and brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.  Roast until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes.

Allow vegetables to cool until they are safe to handle.  Scoop eggplant flesh from skin into a medium heavy saucepan. Discard skin. Squeeze garlic cloves from skin into saucepan. Add tomatoes and onion to saucepan, plus parsley, cider, lemon juice and broth.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.  Cool slightly.

Working in batches, purée soup in a blender until smooth.  Return soup to saucepan and add cream, if desired. Heat through.  Garnish with fresh parsley and cracked pepper.  Serve with a hearty grain like these whole wheat rosemary rolls.

Texas Tailgate Chili

All week I’ve been looking forward to adapting this chili recipe to make use of the local, fresh produce and protein I have on hand.  I made several changes and the finished product is delicious!! I substituted fresh pintos and tomatoes for the canned ingredients in the original recipe, plus I added a 1/2 bottle of Shiner (local beer, of course!) and used a mix of local ground turkey and pork sausage instead of factory-farmed beef.

This chili been simmering on my stove for about 2 hours now, and it’s still going strong.  It should be mighty flavorful in time for the Texas Tech beatdown tonight at 7:00.

Texas Tailgate Chili
1.5 cups fresh pinto beans
1 onion, chopped
1.5 lbs ground meat (I used turkey thighs + pork sausage)
2 bell peppers, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed, diced
6 large garden tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (I used these since I didn’t have more fresh beans on hand)
3 Tbs. canned organic tomato paste
1/2 bottle Shiner beer
1/4 c. chili powder
1 Tbs. cumin
1 Tbs. paprika
1 tsp. cayenne pepper

The preparation is pretty basic.  First cook the pinto beans in a medium-sized saucepan.*  Brown the meat in a separate, large soup pot.  Chop the vegetables and add them to the meat mixture as you go.  Start with the onions and peppers and work your way to the more delicate tomatoes.  Be careful to get lots of tomato liquid (tomato snot, as my sister in-law Tara calls it) into the pot so you’ll have enough cooking liquid in the chili. Add the tomato paste and stir.

By the time you finish chopping  all the vegetables, the pinto beans will likely be tender.  Drain those and add them, plus canned beans, to the pot. Next pour in that beer!  Add seasonings and simmer for at least half an hour.  I plan on keeping my pot of chili on the stove on low for most of the day so the flavors are really developed for game time. Serve over tortilla chips, baked potatoes, hot dogs, or on its own with chopped raw onions and shredded cheddar cheese.  And Hook ’em Horns!!!

* Don’t be intimidated by fresh beans! To cook: them rinse them very well under cold running water.  Put them in a saucepan and cover with plenty of water. (Beans should be submerged, plus a few inches of water.) Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 35-45 minutes.  Drain.

A Soup for Tuesdays

Tuesdays can be a pretty rough day to cook in our house.  We don’t get our Greenling local box until Wednesday each week and I wait to take care of other grocery shopping until Thursday or Friday. Sometimes I forget to go grocery shopping altogether.  That means every Tuesday, we’re usually out of milk, scraping at the dregs of the produce in our fridge, and if we’re lucky, we’ve still got a few random tupperwares of leftovers.

The past few weeks, though, Tuesdays have been great!   I found an awesome soup recipe whose ingredients all last over a week in the fridge! It’s a huge plus that they all happen to be local-box favorites that are almost always in season in Texas. The non-refrigerated ingredients keep a long time in the pantry and are super cheap, plus the finished soup reheats beautifully. Oh yeah, it’s really healthy, too!

You’ll see that the recipe adapts really easily to what you have on hand– if it’s been in the crisper for a week and it’s still good, it will probably work in this soup.  No grocery panic, and no wasted local box produce!

Tuesday Soup (makes about 8 cups)
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 leeks or 2 onions
2 potatoes or 2 sweet potatoes
2 cups cubed butternut squash or 1 cup cubed zucchini squash
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 apples, cored and diced
4 cups veggie or chicken or beef broth or a mix of these plus some water if you’re desperate
1/4 cup leftover white wine
salt & pepper
Plus any combination of herbs and seasonings that you enjoy.  I like 1/4 tsp each curry, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom.  An alternative would be 1/4 each teaspoon rosemary, thyme, and a few bay leaves.  Choose a flavor profile and go with it!

1. Chop up all the veggies and fruit. You can leave the skin on everything but the butternut squash. Take care to core and deseed the apples and butternut squash!  Hint: microwave the whole squash for about 4 minutes while you collect the ingredients. Once it has cooled, it will be much easier to cut and cube than if it were raw.

2. Saute all the fruits and veggies in olive oil in a really big soup pot for about 20 minutes, until it’s all soft and shiny.

3. Add the wine and stir, then add the broth. Bring to a simmer and cover.  Simmer, covered, at least 20 minutes. Midway through the simmering process, taste the soup and add the seasonings you like.  It is important for this recipe to taste as you go, especially if you experiment with the quantities and types of veggies and broths you use.

5. Remove the bay leaf and any rosemary stems, if applicable.  Use a blender to puree the soup and serve.

6. Bask in the glory of your cleaned-out crisper drawer.  Feel thrifty and healthy and regular. (This soup has a lot of fiber.) Enjoy!!