Chicken tortilla soup

March 22, 2010

We traveled.  We came back.  We  experienced the same blizzard twice: once out west, for an entire day, and then again flying back into Chicago.  It was  really just one of those March snowstorms that only thinks it’s scary but can’t even make the snow stick for more than a couple of hours.  It did, however, provide us with some very turbulent moments over Nebraska (“I’m never-ever-ever flying again; you will just have to tell me what Spain is like!” was actually uttered, I’m afraid), along with a rather dicey landing at O’Hare.  We were ever so glad to touch down–but then, aren’t we, Mr. and Ms. Homebody, always speechlessly ecstatic to come home?  And what better way to celebrate than with a lazy day of coffee and naps and  movies and books and wine and soup?

Chicken tortilla soup

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 28oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 lb frozen corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • tortilla chips, avocados, cheese (I can’t possibly tell you how much you’re going to want)
  • oregano, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt, pepper
  1. Saute the chicken and onion–with generous dashes of of paprika, oregano, chili powder, salt, pepper–for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add water and tomatoes; bring to a boil; simmer on low for 30 minutes.
  3. Toss in the corn, beans, and scallions (along with more spices, if needed).
  4. Serve with tortillas, cilantro, cheese, and chopped avocados.
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Last night, I informed Mr. Onepot that we were about to order Chinese.  Then, out of some poorly defined but quite persistent guilt, I found myself preparing the following:

Polenta+spinach+black bean strata

  • 3 cups water + 1 cup milk
  • 1.25 cup polenta
  • .5 large onion
  • 1 can black beans
  • .5 lb spinach (fresh, in this case, but surely frozen would also do)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • salt, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 380F.
  2. Bring the water and milk to a boil.  (Remember that milk will trick you into thinking it’s nowhere near boiling, and then, in less than a second, puff up to an obscene height and spill all over your stove top.  So, sorry to say, you will have to babysit this just a bit.)
  3. Once it boils, stir in the polenta and salt.  Turn the heat down to low and cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring only occasionally.  (This you don’t have to babysit!  I’ve never understood why people complain about the intense attention polenta requires.  In the Old Country, we treat it roughly and it turns out just fine.)
  4. While the milk+water are heating up, start sauteing the onion.  Once it’s soft and happy, add the beans along with a touch of their liquid.  Season ever so generously with paprika and cayenne pepper.
  5. After the beans and onions have had, say, 5 minutes to get to know each other, turn the heat off, toss the spinach on top of them, and cover.  The residual heat will cause the spinach to wilt just a touch, making it more manageable.
  6. In an altogether unrelated bowl (oh, this is so not a one-pot dish), beat the egg and combine with the yogurt.
  7. Layer!  First the polenta, then the beany and spinachy mix, and finally the yogurty egg.
  8. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes.

(…In the end, I was so very glad we hadn’t ordered Chinese.)

A week of beans

January 7, 2010

It’s been a week of beans chez Onepot.  So, if you don’t care for beans and/or feel compelled to go straight to the comments section to explain how they give you gas, you should probably just switch to some babies-and-cookies blog now and come back tomorrow.

Still here?  Onto beans, then.  A $3.71 bag of dry black beans, acquired on Sunday when Mr. Onepot apparently found a deal he could not turn down, has been transformed into three dinners and four lunches for the two of us.

First there was this:

  • 1 giant, slightly intimidating heap of dry black beaks
  • enough water to cover the heap in the pressure cooker
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (slightly less than full; I was hungry) jar Trader Joe’s habanero+lime salsa
  • 2 jalapeno peppers + 1 banana pepper, cut into ringlets of fire
  • cilantro and scallions (you know, for prettiness)

Then I…

  1. Cooked the beans in the pressure cooker for approximately 30 minutes post-whistle.  (Of course, this would work in a regular pot as well, but the cooking time will be different.)
  2. Drained the beans.  While they were relaxing in the colander I…
  3. Sauted the onion, garlic, carrot, and peppers in the same pot for 3-5 minutes.  And finally, I…
  4. Added the beans and salsa; stirred; let it all simmer for another minute or so.

Night 1: the beans went into a tortilla with some hot sauce and queso fresco:

Night 2: the beans cuddled with some saffron couscous and rapini stir-fried with garlic and lemon:

Night 3: here they finally are, just gently revived with a can of chopped tomatoes, in a rice + beans interpretation: