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.
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.