But let's focus on soup, shall we? To celebrate, each Wednesday this month, I'll share one of our family's all-time favorite soups, starting with this sinus-clearing chili soup that I *think* came from my mother's copy of Anna Thomas' "Vegetarian Epicure" cookbook back in the '70s. It garnered a 2nd place ribbon in the vegetarian chili category at a recent charity cook-off (yes, there were only a couple of us competing in the category. However, I suspect the voting was rigged by one of my fellow competitors, considering he had his entire extended family on hand to stuff the ballot box.)
I digress. At any rate, it's a winter favorite with my family and some new converts who tested it at the cook-off and came back begging for seconds.
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon jar garlic)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
2 medium potatoes, peeled (or unpeeled, your choice), diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 14.5-ounce can diced stewed tomatoes
1 can diced green chilies
4 cups vegetable or chicken* broth
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Salt & pepper to taste
12-16 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
In heavy Dutch oven, heat oil, add onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until softened. Add paprika and continue cooking for a minute or two until it begins to caramelize (watch closely and don't let it scorch.) Add remaining ingredients except seasonings and Monterey Jack cheese; bring to boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes until potatoes are tender. Add seasonings during last 5-10 minutes of cooking.
Distribute cubed cheese among bowls (you can add as much or little as you like); ladle the piping hot soup over cheese and let stand for a minute to give the cheese time to soften and get wonderfully gooey. Makes 4-6 servings. Enjoy!
A few notes:
*Obviously, using chicken broth will negate the "vegetarian" status, but it's good with vegetable broth if you have it handy. I tend to substitute chicken broth because we aren't vegetarians and I always have a few quarts of chicken broth in the freezer.)
I have substituted a couple cans of Rotel for the tomatoes and green chilies if that's all I have on hand. Just keep in mind that either way, the green chilies can pack quite a punch if you pick up "medium" or "hot" instead of mild. We like it spicy, but consider yourself warned.
This soup can be doubled and/or cooked in the crockpot on low or high heat, just add more cooking time if you use the slow cooker. It also reheats well (you may have to add a little more broth as the potatoes will absorb some of the liquid overnight); just keep the cheese cubes separate, as they will get rubbery or stringy if heated along with the soup.