Blog Archive

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Two Winter Soups

White Bean Chili with Herbed Yogurt Cheese

Two Winter Soups
by Victoria Challancin

You can never have too many soup recipes. All cooks know this.  All cooks, all over the world.  As a precursor to a larger meal, or as a meal in themselves as with these two recipes, soups are always welcome at the table.  The first of these recipes is Martha Stewart's version a white bean chili.  I make white bean chili fairly often in cooler weather with no real recipe, but this time I used this particular recipe as a part of a class I taught Mexican cooks.  It's both easy and flexible:  I love to add roasted chiles, roasted tomatillos, sharp cheddar cheese, more spices (definitely!) and serve it with cornbread or corn tortillas.  But for a very palatable and gentle version, this recipe works fine as is..

The second recipe comes from Martha Rose Shulman's Recipes for Health column for the New York Times.  This lovely soup is perhaps a mere reflection of a true bouillabaisse, that glorious fish stew for which Marseille is known, but it is wonderful nevertheless.  While there is no hint of seafood in this recipe, the seasonings do remain true to what you might find in the south of France in a real fish stew.  Martha Rose Shulman calls this "poor man's bouillabaisse" as it is made with potatoes instead of the numerous and expensive fish and shellfish that usually go into the authentic version.

Although I knew I was only making a potato soup (a "classy" one at that, with hints of saffron), I just had to add the classic mayonnaise accompaniment for the original rich seafood soup/stew:  rouille.  Rouille, which actually means "rust" in French, is typically made from raw eggs (it is a mayonnaise, after all!); here we have an egg-less version that uses olive oil to emulsify the spicy mixture of chiles and breadcrumbs.  The resulting condiment truly reflects its name, and this rusty red mixture of chiles, breadcrumbs, and spices can be used to accompany all manner of dishes--other soups (especially cream soups), eggs, cooked/roasted vegetables, sandwiches...just use your imagination.

Note:  Martha Stewart recently visited San Miguel de Allende, where I live.  Visit her blog here, here, and here (this last link shows photos of our local market) to view some photos.  

Another Note:  Although I used homemade chicken broth in both of these recipes, water or vegetable stock could easily be substituted if a true vegetarian dish is preferred.  In Mexico because it is both easy and economical to find chicken parts that are perfect for making broth--feet, necks, and backs--I usually make fresh broth.  

White Bean Chili with Herbed Yogurt Cheese
Serves 6.
                                                3 cups dried navy or other white beans
                                                2 small poblano chile peppers
                                                1 tablespoon unsalted butter
                                                4 cloves garlic, minced
                                                1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
                                                1 large carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
                                                2 stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
                                                1 teaspoon ground cumin
                                                1 teaspoon ground coriander
                                                1/2 teaspoon paprika
                                                1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
                                                30 ounces homemade chicken stock, skimmed of fat
                                                8 cups water
                                                1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
                                                1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
                                                4 radishes, grated
                                                Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
                                                Herbed Yogurt Cheese (see the recipe)

Pick over dried beans, discarding any stones or broken beans; rinse.  Place in a large saucepan, cover 
with cold water by 2 inches, and bring to a strong boil over high heat.  Cover, and remove from heat; 
let stand 1 hour.  Drain the beans and set aside. 

Meanwhile, place peppers directly over the trivet of a gas-stove burner over high heat or on a grill.  
As they turn black, turn with tongs. (Alternatively, place peppers on a baking pan; broil in over,
turning as peppers become charred).  Transfer charred peppers to a medium bowl; cover with plastic 
wrap.  Let peppers rest 15 minutes.  Transfer to a work surface (do NOT rinse).  Peel off blackened 
skin; discard.  Halve peppers; remove and discard seeds and ribs.  Cut chiles into 1/4-inche pieces; 
set aside.

Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add garlic, onion, carrot, and celery. Cover; cook, 
stirring occasionally, until softened and slightly browned, about 15 minutes.  Add cumin, coriander, 
paprika, and cayenne,if using; stir to combine.  Stir in stock, water, beans, and half the roasted poblano 
peppers.  Cover; cook until beans are soft, about 1 1/2 hours.  Uncover; simmer gently until beans begin 
to fall apart, about 30 minutes more.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve chile garnished with remaining poblano peppers, radish, cilantro, and yogurt cheese, if desired.

Herbed Yogurt Cheese

Makes about 1 cup

Note:  Instead of making yogurt cheese, you can simple use a thick Greek yogurt, which in 

Mexico is called jocoque.

                                                    One 8-ounce container plain fat-free yogurt

                                                    2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

                                                    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

                                                    1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

                                                    1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

                                                    Pinch of freshly ground pepper

Line a colander or strainer with several thicknesses of cheesecloth; set over a bowl.  Add yogurt; drain for 1 hour.  Transfer yogurt to a bowl of food processor; add lime juice, cilantro, parsley, salt and pepper.  Puree until well-combined.  Chill until ready to use, up to 1 week.

Provençal Potato “Bouillabaisse” with Rouille

Provençal Potato “Bouillabaisse” with Rouille

Yield: Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium or large onion, cut in half then thinly sliced across the grain

2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise, sliced and 

rinsed well

3 large garlic cloves (more to taste), minced or sliced

1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped or 1 (14-ounce) can, with liquid

6 cups water or chicken stock


A bouquet garni made with 1 cleaned leek green, a bay leaf, a thin slice of orange zest 

and a couple of sprigs each of parsley and thyme, tied together

1 pound waxy potatoes or Yukon golds, scrubbed and sliced

A generous pinch of saffron threads

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Pinch of cayenne (optional)

4 large eggs

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Optional: 4 to 8 thin slices baguette or country bread, toasted and rubbed with a cut clove 

of garlic

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot or casserole and add the 

onion and leeks. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir 

together for about a minute, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the 

bouquet garni and cook, stirring from time to time, for 10 minutes, until the tomatoes 

have cooked down and smell fragrant. Add the water or stock and the potatoes, and bring 

to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and the saffron, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 20 to 25 

minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Taste, adjust the salt, and add cayenne and 

pepper. Remove the bouquet garni and stir in the parsley.

Making sure that the soup is at a bare simmer, carefully break the eggs into a bowl and 

tip into the soup. Cover (you can turn off the heat at this point) and cook 5 minutes or 

until set. Ladle the soup into wide soup bowls, with an egg for each portion. Garnish with 

croutons if desired, and serve.


(Adapted from a recipe from BBC)

4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

                                                1 red jalapeño chile, deseeded and roughly chopped

                                                1 large red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and chopped

                                                1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (hot or mild)

                                                3/4 cup olive oil

                                                2 tablespoons fresh white breadcrumbs

                                                Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the garlic, jalapeño, bell pepper, and smoked paprika in a food processor or blender and 

puree to a smooth paste.

With the motor running gradually pour in the olive oil until well combined, finally blend in the

breadcrumbs.  Add a teaspoon of hot water to thin, if necessary.  Season the rouille to taste.


Victoria Challancin
Flavors of the Sun International Cooking School
San Miguel de Allende, México

Happy Holidays!

1 comment:

Dimah said...

Fantastic photos ! and the soup looks delicious!