Monday, January 25, 2010

Creamy White Bean Chili

I've had this white bean chili recipe on the brain ever since I had a memorable version of it at Bonnie's Restaurant on Aspen. Actually, EVERYTHING I ate at Bonnie's was amazing - they have this mile-high apple strudel with whipped cream too - which was a revelation for ski-hill dining. Case in point: the tres malheureux "fish taco" I had in Whistler last weekend. Essentially, a battered fish 'n' chips-style unidentifiable piece of fish on a piece of cardboard.

But Bonnie's! Worth the trip to Aspen alone.

This isn't their recipe (and if anyone has it, PLEASE send away!) but a compilation of a few recipes I found, plus a little ad-libbing to get it to the right consistency. It's still pretty tasty. I'll still fantasize about Bonnie's, but this'll tide me over in the meantime.

Creamy White Bean Chili recipe

2 tbsp butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 tsp.minced garlic
2 cups chopped mixed bell peppers
1, 4 oz can chopped jalapenos
1/2 lb mushrooms
3/4 c diced carrots
4 cups vegetable broth
1, 15 oz can black-eyed peas, rinsed
1, 15 0z can, garbano beans, rinsed
2, 15 oz can, navy beans, rinsed
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, chopped
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 1/2 cup light sour cream
Monterey jack cheese, to top (optional)

Melt butter in a large heavy-bottom pot; add onions and garlic.Cook over medium heat,stirring occasionally,until translucent (3-4 minutes).

Add peppers, carrots and mushrooms. Stirfry until soft (5-7 min.).

Add all remaining ingredients, except sour cream.Continue cooking until mixture comes to full boil (10-12 min.)

Cover,reduce heat to low. Cook;stirring occasionally,until slightly thickened (45-50 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in sour cream.

Serve in bowls with gusto! And shredded monteray jack cheese.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Vegetarian Kapstunica (Slovak Christmas soup)

I make this soup recipe twice a year: for my family on traditional Christmas eve, and on December 6 when I throw a Slovak Christmas party for my friends back in Vancouver. It's a traditional Slovak Christmas soup—though made a little non-traditionally, given that there's no meat in it. Its base should have a nice big pork hock for flavour, but given that I'm a vegetarian, I've learned how to substitute that out.

The recipe comes from my Aunt Olga, who learned from my Babka (though I'm curious how Campbell's tomato soup became part of the base—I'm certain it wasn't always). For the first few years I made it I would call her on the 24th in a panic to get a recap of how it all comes together, but I've pretty much got it down now. All of the amounts are rough estimates—like most soups, it's pretty flexible. So feel free to up or down the volumes if you like a little more potato, a little less oregano, etc. It makes A LOT, like, enough to serve an army for a week a lot, but if you want to feed even more people, up the potatoes. Easy peasy.

Slovak Christmas Soup Recipe, vegetarian-style


3 cans Campbell's tomato soup
1 jar good-quality sauerkraut (buy from a Polish deli)
1/2 cabbage
4 potatoes, peeled and diced
10-12 prunes, diced
2 medium onions
1/3 cup butter or margerine
1 tbsp caraway seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp dry basil
1 tbsp dry oregano
1/4 cup brown sugar
salt to taste
sour cream


In a small pot, cover potatoes and one onion with water and bring to a boil. Add 1 tsp salt. Cook until just fork-tender, about 7 minutes.

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, combine tomato soup with three cans of water, sauerkraut, cabbage, one onion, prunes, butter, caraway, peppercorns, basil and oregano.

If soup is too thick, add more water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer.

When potatoes are ready, empty the whole pot—water, onions and all—into the soup pot. (Parboiling the potatoes is key: potatoes won't cook in tomato-based dishes).

Simmer the soup for at least two hours, until the fresh cabbage is soft. (You may have to continue adding water if soup gets too thick.) Add brown sugar (because sauerkraut brands vary in acidity, you might want to adjust the amounts up or down) and salt to taste. Serve with a dollop of sour cream in each bowl.

This soup is often even better on the second day!