Soup Mondays – Chili

No 2015 resolutions for me. Still, I’m determined to temper 2014’s incessant baking flurry with a healthful alternative. This winter, I’ve implemented ‘Soup Mondays’ in the office through January and conceivably into February, if the project still interests me. In my cookbooks, there’s a dozen or more soup recipes just begging to be tried. For week #1, I elected a hearty chili (maybe not technically soup, but who will argue) adapted from the late Capt. James F. McDonnell and “The Firefighter’s Cookbook” by John Sineno. I finished the chili late on Sunday and, with the Monday morning rush, didn’t have time to snap a photo. This smoky chili smoldering with just a bit of spice was a hit in the office and may make an encore appearance at the new neighborhood Bunko group I recently joined.

Phoren’s Chili
Adapted from James McDonnell
The Firefighter’s Cookbook by John Sineno

1 lb. mild Italian sausage
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 diced yellow onion
1 diced green pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 ½ T. chili powder
1 T. smoked paprika
1 T. dried oregano
1 T. instant coffee granules
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 t. cumin
1 ½ c. chicken or beef stock
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 can refried beans

Green Onions, chopped

Sauté sausage and ground beef. Once all water from meat has evaporated, add onion and green pepper and sauté until meat and vegetables are brown. Add garlic and sauté briefly. Add tomato paste and sauté until bottom of pan has a golden glaze. Add, chili, smoked paprika, oregano, coffee, sugar, salt, pepper and cumin and sauté until fragrant. Add stock and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan (there will not be much liquid). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 ¼ hours. Check and stir occasionally so mixture doesn’t burn and add additional stock if needed. While meat is cooking combine beans and set aside. After meat is cooked, add beans and heat through. Serve garnished with cheese, green onions and crema.


Allegorically Chocolate

There’s a girl I know who likes chocolate.  Truth be told, she is currently enamored by chocolate.  She indulged in chocolate years ago, but it is verboten to her today. Nevertheless, she visits the chocolate store every day, many times a day.  She smells the coco liquor in the air and smiles.  She admires the bonbons behind the glass, tiny gems filled with magnificent crèmes and caramels.  She sighs as she recalls the feel of coco butter melting in her mouth. She dreams of gorging herself on chocolates, unrestrained.   She treasures her time in the shop, but it is also maddening for her.  Why does she torture herself so?  She is convinced that, very soon, the store’s proprietress will notice her loitering and banish her from the store forever.  This rupture will leave her hollow.  In the meantime, she is tantalized.  She believes her resolve is absolute; she will never falter and succumb to her desire, but is it sound to surround herself with so much temptation?  Wouldn’t it be better for her to fall smitten for donuts?  She has no restrictions on donuts, but donuts don’t interest her now.

Soups On

It’s the first day of 2009 and the only resolution I’ve made is not to make any resolutions.  I woke up at 1:00 this afternoon yet guilt doesn’t hover around me.  I made it to bed around 4:00 a.m. this morning so 1:00 is only nine hours of sleep – not bad.  Not that I participated in any wild New Year’s debauchery.  I spent the evening at my friends’ house playing Wii and drinking champagne.  Oh, to think about the New Year’s past in comparison!!


In my own sort of ceremonial new year’s new-start ritual,  I’ve taken my refrigerator’s overflowing leftovers from Christmas and gave them new life as two warm, comforting, winter-busting soups.  The first is a split mung bean (tastes similar to lentils) vegetable soup and the second is a creamy roasted corn and pepper soup with wilted arugula. 


They both began the same way – sweating some chopped onions (leftover) and celery until soft.  From there, the two ersatz recipes diverge.  The vegetable soup received leftover carrots, thyme, a splash of basalmic vinegar, a lonely tomato beginning to show its age, leftover chicken broth and what’s left of my cooked split mung beans.  The creamy soup gets roasted corn (frozen) and a few handfuls of arugula leftover from a salad and no longer fit for eating fresh. 


The two bowls of homemade soup now replace the multiple plastic bags, bowls, and jars that used to fill my refrigerator just less than an hour ago.  There’s room on the shelves and I feel good about today’s repurposing.  Today,  I said goodbye to the old and hello to the new.