White black bean chili soup

-can be vegetarian

This tasty soup is a fun twist to the regular chili soup. The difference is that the beef is replaced with turkey or chicken and the chili beans are replaced with black beans but otherwise it is very similar to the well known beef chili soup … just even better in our opinions. Of course, you can add all your favorite foods that you would otherwise add to a chili soup.

The biggest change in the recipe is the meat. Many people prefer the lighter turkey or chicken meat. The chicken or turkey is very nice here, the thigh gives more flavor and is cheaper but the breast would work well too.

Maybe it would be more accurate to call this soup black and white chili soup. The white makes sense with the white meat but I used black beans instead of white beans because I think it has more flavor. Of course, you can use either.

EDIT: I decided to make a minor change to the title to better reflect what this soup is all about so I added black bean in the title. I have been calling it the white chili soup for years so I did not even give it much thought when I posted the recipe. I apologize but this will be more accurate otherwise it is still the same tasty soup recipe.

I decided to post this recipe now because beans especially black beans are great in the winter. The warming black beans have a sweet flavor and nourish the kidneys. They are antibacterial, anti-parasitic, detoxifying and have high levels of disease fighting antioxidants, numerous vitamins and minerals, protein and fiber. In addition, it has heart, skin protecting and anti-cancer properties. It also improves digestion and is great for overall health. It is native to the Americas and have been used for thousands of years. No wonder the natives ate it with almost every meal.

I like to make up my own chili spice, please follow the recipe below or you can use whatever you have on hand or buy it in a store already made. It is cheaper if you buy it in bulk vs buying in a jar and has no additives either.

You can experiment with the vegetables of course, I added corn, carrots and green beans. In the summer, I like to add zucchini too. But please feel free to add whatever you would like.

Vegetarian readers might be wondering if this soup could be made vegetarian. The answer is yes! – you can take out the meat and just use vegetarian stock and I also added eggs. I have made it without meat, it is tasty.

Surprise your guests at a party or just treat yourself. Honestly, we believe that this version is even tastier than the original soup.

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 strips of bacon
  • 1 lb ground chicken or turkey thigh or breast
  • 28 oz canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp of tomato paste
  • 5 tsp of chili seasoning (please see recipe below)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • chicken stock
  • 3 medium sized carrots, sliced
  • 8 oz corn (frozen)
  • 8 oz vegetables. I used green beans. Also zucchini would be fine
  • 2 cups of uncooked black beans or 28 oz of canned beans
  • salt and pepper
  • yellow cheddar cheese
  • chips
  • sour cream
  • cilantro

Chili seasoning ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp (3 tsp) chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Preparation

  • Wash and soak beans in cold water for 8 hours or overnight. Pour off the liquid and wash well. Add cold filtered water and cook for 2 hours or until soft but not falling apart. Omit if using canned beans. The home-made beans are well worth the extra effort though, they taste so much better.
  • Make the stock. Omit if using ready made stock.
  • Heat oil in a large pot with a large surface area. Add the chopped onion, celery and the chopped up bacon, sauté for 10 minutes or until onions are translucent and render the bacon.
  • Add 5 tsp of the chili seasoning, mix. Add the crushed garlic cloves, mix.
  • Quickly add the tomatoes, stir. Add the tomato pure and stir. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes make a nice sauce.
  • Add the carrots and enough stock so the liquid covers the soup well. Cook for 1 hour or until the carrots are soft.
  • Add the corn and the vegetables at the end so they can be cooked for 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the beans with its liquid and more stock if needed to cover everything.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve hot with sour cream, chips, cilantro.

enjoy!

Roasted potatoes with rosemary

My recipe today is potatoes with rosemary … yes that is it, just the two main ingredients plus the garlic, oregano and the salt. They should complement many winter meat or vegetarian dishes easily. I like using them in cooking because they both taste great and are good for digestion. I get very excited about rosemary in general as it has such rich and colorful history steeped in the culinary world, legends and folklore.

Rosemary is such a culinary delight, a popular plant in the kitchen especially during the colder months. Chefs use it in a wide variety of dishes from soups, bean dishes to meats particularly for lamb and chicken. It is not just used for enhancing the flavor of a dish but it also helps digestion. Also, it can preserve food, an important consideration in the old days before refrigerators were invented so I can imagine that rosemary was essential in a Medieval kitchen…

The aromatic rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) has been around for thousands of years. It is native to the Mediterranean region. Its Latin name is derived from the words ‘ros’ which means dew, and ‘marinus’ that means sea and as its name suggest it can in fact survive on the spray of the sea air. Persian doctors valued it as one of their best remedies. It has also been recognized as a powerful medicine in the Mediterranean countries. Rosemary along with the other digestive remedies of the region like thyme, oregano, fennel have been used in the culinary world for their medicinal values. Earlier, the ancient doctors started using them in dishes so people could get their benefits on a daily basis. So yes we can thank these wise doctors for all these fabulous dishes.

Ancient cultures thought of rosemary as a protective plant that could ward off evil. If we look at all the benefits that rosemary has, this statement would become more clear and less mysterious. Its health benefits come from its anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-cancer abilities. It is also a restoring remedy as it can improve heart, liver, gallbladder, brain and kidney functions, circulation, digestion and the nervous system. It brings warmth to a cold, debilitated body. In the 13th century, Queen Elizabeth of Hungary claimed that rosemary wine was the secret to her long life and cured her paralyzed legs.

I’m now sitting here at my desk with a bunch of rosemary and sniffing its aromatic oils…

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of red potatoes
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • leaves of 4 stalks of fresh rosemary or 2 tsp of dried rosemary
  • 1/4 cup of oil

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 475 F.
  • Soak the potatoes in cold water so the dirt can come off easily. I like to leave the peel on but if you prefer you can peel the potatoes without soaking. If using fresh, take the rosemary springs and pull the rosemary leaves back on the vine to get the leaves off. Cut the potatoes into cubes (halves and quarters) and put them in a larger bowl with the oil, crushed garlic, oregano, salt and the rosemary. Toss until the potatoes are well coated.
  • Oil a baking sheet and spread the potatoes on it.
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are golden and tender. Flip the potatoes twice during baking to ensure even browning.
  • Serve warm, preferably the same day.
  • enjoy!

Sources

Matthew Wood: Earthwise

Photo, recipe, text by twincities.herbs.com

Old fashioned popcorn

I figured folks might not be very interested in complex dishes after the holidays and I would like to spend time with my family, so I decided to post a recipe for something simple, making popcorn- the old fashioned way … no gadgets needed, just a pan with its lid that you already have in your kitchen.

Corn does not necessarily have a connection with the winter but I chose making popcorn for now because I enjoy listening to the popping sound that the corn kernels make as they are popping. As our lives are slowing down, our sense of hearing is more heightened, we can hear things that we might not have paid attention to before. And those warm popcorn straight out of the frying pan hmmmm so delicious ….

This is a nice and tasty snack to be enjoyed during the long winter nights. You can add a little butter, salt and pepper and other seasonings of your choice. I personally like to have it without anything added.

There are 4 things you should try to watch out for:

Pan should be hot before you put the kernels in.

Keep lifting the top of the pan to release the extra steam.

Keep shaking the pan to avoid the kernels from burning.

When the kernels stop popping, take the pot off immediately.

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup of corn or more if you have a bigger pan.
  • seasoning of your choice to taste

Instructions

  • Heat up a pan or a pot with a lid. My pan is 10″ in diameter. When it feels hot, put in about 10 kernels for testing. After they start popping, shake the pot a little so your kernels don’t burn. When they stop popping pour them in a metal bowl.
  • Add in 1/4 cup of corn kernels. About every 1 minute, lift off the top of the pan allowing the steam to escape for one second until you stop hearing the kernels popping. Keep shaking the pan. When you start hearing the kernels pop less frequently, get ready to take pot off the burner.
  • Pour popcorn into the metal bowl.
  • Allow to cool, season if you wish and eat.

enjoy!

Photo, text, recipe by twincitiesherbs.com

Halloween/Harvest bread (barmbrack)

In honor of Halloween, I would like to post a recipe for a special treat called barmbrack (bairín breac). It is kind of the ancestor of the store bought Halloween candies that kids get at night when they go out trick or treating.

Halloween originated from the beautiful ancient Celtic festival called Samhain (pronounced sow-een). It means end of summer and is the celebration of the Celtic new year. Samhain divides the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the new year, the dark and the light. Also, they believed that on this day the division between the old (deceased people) and the new (living people) is the thinnest and we get to the souls of our ancestors the closest. It is a mysterious celebration that other cultures observe as well like in Diwali or Mexican Day of the dead.

People offer food for the spirits that appear on Earth during this time period. Barmbrack is the food that is given on Samhain to make sure that the spirits don’t play tricks on us. So yes barmbrack is the ancestor of the Halloween candies. Everybody in the family gets a slice and then they offer some to the spirits. People also went out to sing songs and tell scary stories on this night and received food in exchange.

This is a simple Irish soda bread with the addition of fruits, nuts, seeds and I also added chocolate chips for the occasion. You can add whatever you wish, whatever grows around you. I used fresh cranberries because they are available here right now but traditionally crab apples were used. Otherwise, I tried to keep the recipe to its original form. The Irish also soak the dried fruits in a strong brew of tea for the night but at least for one hour. I really enjoyed this moist sweet bread, there was a surprise in every bite … sometimes cranberries or raisins or prunes or cherries but the most special treat was the bite with the chocolate chips …

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 5 Tbsp sugar (1 Tbsp if apples are used instead of cranberries)
  • 1 mug of strong English tea (double strength)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup of dried fruits ( I used currants, cherries, prunes)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 nutmeg, 1/4 cloves
  • 1 cup of sliced fresh cranberries or shaved apples
  • 5 Tbsp poppy seed
  • hand-full of roughly chopped nuts of your choice – traditionally hazelnuts were used.
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups of buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp of a spirit of your choice (I used whisky) – (optional)
  • 1/4-1/2 cups of chocolate chips

Directions

  • Make a strong English tea. Pour it on the dried fruits and leave it on overnight but for at least 1 hour.
  • Wash and slice the fresh cranberries. Put the slices in a small bowl and put in the sugar, whisky and the spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves). If you use apples instead of cranberries, use 1 Tbsp sugar only! Let it stand until it releases its liquid.
  • Set oven to 375 F.
  • Measure out the 4 cups of flour, add the baking soda, salt. Whisk together. Work in the butter with hand, knives or electrical mixer. Mix in the poppy seeds.
  • Squeeze the liquid out the dried fruits.
  • Mix in the dried fruits, the cranberries( with the liquid), nuts, chocolate chips. Mix well.
  • Make a well in the middle, add eggs, buttermilk and mix. Add more flour if needed.
  • Put dough on lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball shape.
  • Put it in a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Check to see if it is done. If the blade of a knife doesn’t come out clean, turn the temperature down to 350 F and bake longer 5-15 more minutes.
  • When done, let it cool for half hour before serving.

enjoy!

Sources

Recipe, photos and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Kitchari recipe

Kitchari! A nourishing vegetarian dish to make in the winter or the summer … whenever you are looking for something easy to digest.

Now that the holidays are over, our bodies want to have a little break from all the rich, heavy foods. However, spring isn’t here yet so we can’t eat all the lovely liver cleansing vegetables. In fact, spring is nowhere in site, just the past week it was -50F here in the Midwest. Even if the prediction of the groundhog is correct, spring won’t start until April here. Many people start dieting, removing nourishing foods from their diet but most fail because it is just too early.  So what can we do?  

I like to turn to the ancient Ayurveda cooking, in other words Indian cuisine! Most people associate Indian foods with something exotic. Yes, some of their dishes can be foreign to us, but their nourishing dish, the Kitchari can be made any time, anywhere and surely by anybody.  Really, Indians make it on a regular basis, serve it during holidays with the rich foods to help digestion and even give it to sick people to recover from an illness. It is an inexpensive dish that millions eat on a daily basis. I asked my Ayurveda teacher if we could eat it during the cold season. She said yes even when it is -50F – just add the warming spices like ginger, cumin, and hot pepper. You can serve local vegetables like carrots, spinach, kale, potatoes, cauliflower, onions etc. Of course, it would go nicely with some Indian rice and roti. 

This is a very healthy dish. Usually, Ayurveda practitioners advice their clients to eat kitchari if they have any acute or chronic issues. It just does amazing things… The three spices turmeric, cumin, coriander are used along with the moong beans. The kitchari diet should last for 1 week when one is only allowed to eat kitchari, rice, grains and vegetables. Of course all the fried foods, fried vegetables, paneer have to be left out. Moong beans are used but if you can get the yellow split moong beans, they are even better as they are easier to digest.

Recipe

Kitchari ingredients

  • 2 tsp of ghee (I use home-made)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp of coriander powder
  • 1 cup of split moong dal (yellow) – soak for at least 4 hours
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp of whole cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp rock salt
  • about 4 cups of water or chicken stock
  • 1 inch of fresh minced ginger root
  • black pepper
  • cilantro to taste
  • yoghurt
  • lemon

Preparation

Indian rice ingredients

  • 1 cups of white Basmati rice
  • 2 cups of water or meat stock
  • 2 tsp ghee (homemade the best)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • little piece of cinnamon
  • pinch of  saffron (8-10 strings)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • raisins
  • ¼ tsp little turmeric

Preperation

  • Clean and soak mung beans overnight but at least for 2 hours. Pour off water and use fresh cold water to cook the beans for 1-1.5 hour.
  • Making the gravy. Saute the onions on medium high heat.
  • When you smell the nice aroma add the ginger, cumin seeds stir and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the powders (turmeric, cumin, coriander), stir. Add garlic, stir.
  • Add cold stock, stir.
  • Add 1 chopped tomato and cook for about 5-10 minutes until it becomes saucy.
  • Add chopped carrots. Indians add the rice here.
  • Bring to a boil, turn down and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Add in the cooked moong beans and cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Prepare the rice.
  • Serve with rice, cilantro and lemon.

Indians cook the dish with the rice. I personally like to serve the rice on the side and prepare separate.

Enjoy!