Mike’s Mesquite-Grilled Chicken Tortilla Soup


Mike's Mesquite-Grilled Chicken Tortilla Soup | Culinary Compost Recipes

This is my original version of a Mexican classic, with a bit of southwest flair infused by New Mexican Hatch chili powder and mesquite wood smoke. As a shortcut, you can fry the chicken in a pan or just boil it before shredding, but why would you want to? Taking the extra time by preparing it on the grill adds an entirely new dimension to this satisfying dish. On a related note, blackening or charring the tomatoes, tomatillos and poblano pepper is essential for the depth of flavor needed — do not skip this step.

I absolutely love this recipe! I hope you do too.


INGREDIENTS:

For the Chicken Marinade~
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 large cloves garlic, crushed then minced
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (2 limes)
1/2 cup XV olive oil
1 tsp. ground coriander
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

For the Tortilla Soup~
4 tbs. XV olive oil
32 oz. chicken broth
1 tsp. dry chicken base
4 large cloves crush garlic, minced
2 tbs. pure mild New Mexican Hatch red chili powder
1 tsp. ground Mexican oregano
1 tbs. chipotle en adobo sauce
1 tbs. ground cumin, preferably from toasted seed
4 medium tomatoes, charred (2 10-oz. cans Rotel® fired diced tomatoes may be used as a substitute)
2 large tomatillos, charred and cored
1 large poblano chili, charred and diced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 charred six-inch corn tortillas (preferably home-made) cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 14.5 oz. can black beans
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste

Garnish With~
2 charred six-inch corn tortillas (preferably home-made) cut into 1/4″ strips
2 Haas avocados, cut in 1/2″ strips
Mike’s Mexican Chipotle-Lime Crema
Chopped fresh cilantro
Lime wedges
Thinly-sliced red onion or green scallion
Shredded Mexican Cotija cheese (Nuestro Queso is an excellent brand)

You’ll also need mesquite wood chips for the grill; about 3/4 cup

 

PREPARATION:

The night before, prepare the chicken marinade so the flavor has time to set up. Pound the chicken breasts flat by using a spiked meat mallet. This will ensure that they cook evenly on the grill and allow the wood smoke to penetrate the meat. Place them in a ziplock storage bag. Whisk the marinade ingredients in a bowl and pour in with the chicken. Seal tightly and double bag it using another plastic storage bag to prevent leaks. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

The next day, prepare an outdoor charcoal fire on a kettle grill. Use real lump charcoal, not briquettes. Prior to lighting the fire, soak a handful of mesquite chips in a bowl of water for about two hours. You only need a little as the flavor from the mesquite smoke is very intense. Place the soaked chips directly on the white-hot coals.

Grill the chicken over direct heat for about four minutes per side, ensuring that they have a nice crusty char on each side. Remove and let cool on a plate. You need not be concerned if they are a bit underdone. They will continue to cook in the pot in the next step.

While the chicken is cooling, heat a 5-quart cast-iron Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil, onion and garlic. Saute for a few minutes until soft taking care not to scorch the garlic.  Dice the charred tomatoes and tomatillos and add to the pot. Increase the heat to medium, and stir occasionally for another 5 minutes.

Next, add the chicken broth, the New Mexican Hatch chili powder, chicken base, chipotle adobo sauce, Mexican oregano, salt and pepper. Increase the heat and bring to a slow boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the soup is simmering, cut up the charred tortillas and add them to the pot.

Carefully transfer this mixture to a blender and pulse until smooth. Return the ingredients to the pot.

Prepare the poblano pepper by charring it with a propane torch or stovetop gas burner. Dice and add to the pot. Using two forks, shred the chicken and add to the pot.

Drain the canned black beans and rinse in a colander with hot water. Simmer them in the soup for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve with the garnish ingredients indicated. Leftovers freeze wonderfully.

Serves 4-6

 

Note: Use extreme caution if using a propane torch indoors.  I would highly recommend using a cast-iron pan on your stovetop as a makeshift heat-shield.

Tomatillos and Garden Jalapenos | Culinary Compost Recipes

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Thai Red Curry Soup with Shrimp


Thai Red Curry Soup with Shrimp | Culinary Compost Recipes

This is a wonderful recipe inspired by some of my favorite Thai cuisine. The red curry paste packs a sucker-punch, so use it sparingly until you know how spicy it is. The addition of turmeric will intensify the color of the dish. If you cannot find lemongrass, don’t worry. The paste already has it. Adding fresh lemongrass will simply provide a more vibrant, complex flavor — remove it before serving as it is tough and will not break down.

Note that the preparation is layered in stages so the tender vegetables go in at the end — this ensures that they don’t overcook.
Enjoy, this is one of my all-time favorites.

 

INGREDIENTS:

2 tbs. peanut oil
20 small shrimp, deveined
2 heaping tbs. red curry paste (or more to taste)
1 medium shallot, minced
1″ chunk of ginger, peeled and finely grated
4 shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 stalk lemongrass; trim, peel and keep only 8″ of the tender base. Crush with a meat mallet and then cut in half.
4 kaffir lime leaves, minced
1.5 tsp. ground turmeric
4 cups chicken stock
1 13-oz. can coconut milk, shaken
4 Thai birds-eye hot chilies, crushed (to taste)
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and thinly-sliced
1 small bunch bok choy, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped (base and greens divided)
1 tbs. brown sugar
Juice of 1/2 fresh lime
2 tbs. fish sauce
3 tbs. dark soy sauce
1/3 of a 14-oz. package of Asian rice vermicelli noodles
Handful of snap peas – about 10
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 cup bean sprouts

~For Garnish:
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
2 scallion, trimmed and finely sliced at a bias, with greens
1 cup trimmed cilantro leaves
Lime wedges

 

DIRECTIONS:

Cut, measure and prepare the ingredients prior to cooking so you have everything at hand. Thai cuisine is known for its short cooking time.

Prepare the Asian vermicelli noodles according to package directions. Break them in half and cook until just al dente – about five minutes. Drain and reserve, covered.

While you are preparing the noodles, place a 3.5-quart heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the peanut oil and heat until shimmering. Add the shrimp and saute for two minutes until pink. Remove the shrimp and set aside. Add the red curry paste and minced shallot to the pot. Stir constantly until fragrant; about a minute. Watch closely so it doesn’t scorch. Add the sliced shitake mushrooms and the grated ginger. Continue stirring for two minutes.

Next, add the chicken stock and increase the heat to a rolling boil. Add the turmeric, brown sugar and coconut milk. Add the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, jalapenos and the white part of the bok choy. Reserve the bok choy greens for later. Reduce heat to a low simmer.

Add the lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce and crushed birds-eye chili. Cook for seven to ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the basil, snap peas and bean sprouts at the very end. Add the prepared noodles, bok choy greens and shrimp to the pot. Stir and remove from heat. Remove and discard the lemongrass before serving.

Garnish with red onion, scallion and cilantro. Drizzle with fresh lime juice if desired.

 

Serves 4

Thai Red Curry Soup with Shrimp | Culinary Compost Recipes

Culinary Compost Boycotts Penzeys Spices


Hello fellow foodies. After reading recent commentary from Bill Penzey, the author of Culinary Compost is officially withdrawing all references to Penzeys Spices on this food blog. While I’ve always known that Bill overtly inserts his political opinion in monthly mailings to his customer base, (which, in its own right is wrong on so many levels,) I can no longer stand by and let this man spew his rhetoric of hate to conservatives, and to people who support and voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential election, by labeling them “racist.”

I am not a racist. I never have been. And I resent being called one.

This is extreme-left socialism, and this kind of bigotry has no place in America.  Make no mistake — my observation is not one of Conservatives vs. Liberals. It is simply a stance of the author not supporting an individual who wants to further divide this country through hate by means of his product.

Shown below are a few articles and a link to Penzey’s official Facebook page:

http://truthfeed.com/owner-of-penzeys-spice-co-trashes-trump-supporters-calling-them-racist-and-saying-they-must-be-punished/39315/

http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2016/11/21/penzeys-ceo-comments-ignite-backlash-praise-and.html

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/nov/23/bill-penzey-ceo-trump-voters-just-committed-the-bi/

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/bill-penzey-spices-trump/

http://modernfarmer.com/2016/11/penzeys-spices-condemns-trump-attracts-rage/

https://www.facebook.com/Penzeys/?fref=ts

 

You be the judge.  Last time I checked, America was still a free country. And my readers, of course, are still allowed to shop where they want and exercise their right to free speech, which I will always respect. However, pitting people against each other in the guise of “Love” is a ruse by Bill Penzey, who’s only concern is making as much money as he can over a very contentious election.  Funny thing is, he’s pissed off a lot of his customers, and I, for one, will not be coming back.

Invariably, comments by Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke say it best:
https://twitter.com/SheriffClarke/status/800088603422380033
“This typical hate-filled white elitist lefty doesn’t live around black people or have stores in black neighborhoods.”

Bill Penzey can be reached at bill@penzeys.com

#boycottpenzeys

 

In the interest of an open discussion, leave your thoughts below – none will be censured.
—Mike from Culinary Compost

Bill Penzey's Socialist Sea Salt

Penzey’s Spices announces new product.

End-of-Summer Acorn Squash Soup with Fresh Basil


End-of-Summer Acorn Squash Soup with Fresh Basil | Culinary Compost Recipes

 

This is a savory, velvety-smooth soup that’s perfect for cold fall afternoons. You can substitute thinly-sliced scallion greens for the basil. Sour cream adds a richer base of flavor, but you can also use one cup of heavy cream instead. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

3 garden acorn squash, halved and seeded
4 tbs. XV olive oil
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup sour cream
3 tbs. salted butter (room temperature)
1 dry bay leaf
1 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. dry tarragon
4 large cloves roasted garlic
1/2 cup fresh-grated quality hard Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
Thinly-sliced fresh garden basil as a garnish

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°-F. Using a very sharp 12” chef knife, carefully halve the acorn squash and core out the seeds and pulp with a spoon. Lop off the ends on each piece so they will sit level on a cookie sheet.

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, place the squash halves on the sheet and brush with olive oil. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Remove and set aside for ten minutes to cool.

While the squash is baking, heat a small, heavy cast-iron skillet over medium heat and add the garlic cloves. Leave the husks on. Turn occasionally and roast for about ten minutes until slightly charred. Remove, let cool and then peel.

Spoon out the squash and transfer to a blender. Add the chicken stock, roasted garlic, sour cream, salted butter, smoked paprika, tarragon, salt and pepper. Pulse until smooth.

Transfer to a heavy soup pot. Add the grated Parmesan cheese. Stir well and add the bay leaf. Cook over medium-low heat for about one hour, stirring often, so the flavors have time to incorporate. Serve with chopped fresh basil as a garnish.

Serves 6.

 

 

Sunday Chicken Soup


Sunday chicken soup

I threw this recipe together about fifteen years ago, as a way to use up leftover chicken meat. I’ve made it so often for the kids — who still rave about it as young adults — that I realized I’ve never recorded it here on Culinary Compost.  Serve with a nice crusty bread and butter, and a tossed salad.  Great for a Sunday lunch or dinner. Leftovers keep wonderfully.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

4 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced with greens, finely chopped (the greens add a wonderful depth of flavor)
1/2 sweet red bell pepper – diced
4 tbs. salted butter
1 tbs. XV olive oil
2 tbs. flour
Leftover chicken meat – breasts or thighs, shredded
48 oz. chicken stock
1 10.75-oz. can of Campbell’s® Cream of Chicken soup
1 tbs. chicken base
1 small 4-oz. can Pennsylvania Dutchman mushrooms, stems & pieces, with liquid
1 15.8-oz. can Great Northern beans, with liquid
Small handful of angel-hair pasta, broken into thirds
Ground black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. ground thyme
1 large bay leaf
2 tbs. dry parsley
3 tbs. dry chopped chives
2 tsp. garlic powder (not salt!)

 

Directions:

Using a large, heavy, 6-quart stock pot, add the diced carrots, onion, pepper and celery to 4 tbs. butter. Heat over medium until softened, about ten minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden or silicone spatula. Add the olive oil and the flour. Reduce the heat slightly, and stir continuously for about five minutes to make a roux.  Add the chicken stock. Cover the pot and allow to come to a boil, then reduce the heat to a very low simmer.

Prepare the chicken meat by removing from the bone, then shredding into bite-sized pieces with a fork. Add to the pot. Add the dry spices and stir occasionally. Add the mushrooms (with the liquid from the can). Add the cream of chicken soup. Stir to incorporate and let simmer for at least a half hour, until the carrots and celery are just undercooked and still a bit crunchy. The volume should be reduced by a third.

Add the beans (with the liquid from the can) and angel-hair pasta, and cook for an additional 15 minutes over very low heat until ready. At this point the vegetables will be perfectly done.  Add water if necessary and go easy on the salt – the beans are loaded with it.

Makes just over two quarts.
Serves 6.

 

 

Mike’s Note:
When preparing in a 3-quart soup pot, use 1-3/4 quarts water, and 8 tsp. chicken base. Do not add salt.

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Kapusta Cabbage Soup


“Kapusta” is Slavic for cabbage. The origin for this recipe is Polish / Ukrainian / Russian. There are many variations; some made with stock simmered from spare rib bones, others with pork chops. It is traditionally served over Christmas or Easter. I’ve had it in a local restaurant and it remains one of my favorite soups. The tangy, smokey flavor is unbeatable. Simmer it very low to allow the flavors to incorporate. Great for long winter nights – this recipe defines comfort food. Even better reheated the second day.

Ingredients:

1 head of red or white cabbage, washed cored and chopped
1 28 oz. jar Frank’s® sauerkraut, drained
1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
1 Hillshire Farms® Polska Kielbasa sausage, cut into 1/2″ chunks
4 strips bacon, cut into 1/4″ chunks
2 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
2 ribs celery, sliced fine
2 tbs. pearl barley
1 generous dollop of sour cream (about 1/4 cup)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Place the cubed bacon in a large, heavy stock pot. Heat to medium-high and cook until partially browned. Add the onion. Stir and cook until lightly carmelized. Add the cubed sausage. Stir and cook until lightly browned. Reduce heat to medium. Add the kraut, diced cabbage and crushed whole tomatoes. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a very low simmer.

Add the mashed garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Watch the amount of salt because the kraut already has plenty. Add the pearl barley. Partially cover and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.

After an hour, add the sliced celery and sour cream. Stir well and simmer for another hour, adding water as necessary. The consistency should not be thick.
If you need to thicken it up, you may form a roux by taking a cup of stock from the pot and combine it with two tbs. flour. Mix well and add back to the pot, ensuring you don’t have lumps.

Serve with a nice crusty bread and salad.

Note: This recipe is NOT intended for a slow cooker.
Due to the acidity of the kraut and tomatoes, it will wreak havoc on the finish of cast-iron pots. For this reason they are not recommended.

Serves: 6

Classic Chicken Booyah


This is a regional recipe you will not find anywhere outside of Northeast Wisconsin. It hails from Belgian settlers who traditionally cooked it in large quantities over an outdoor fire. Here is a much more manageable version for home use. Enjoy – slow and low are key to achieving the best flavor.

Ingredients:

1 pound beef or pork stew meat, cubed in 1″ squares
2 large spanish onions, chopped
3 bay leaves
salt and pepper
1 tsp. dry thyme
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tbs. garlic powder
1 large stewing chicken (6 lbs), cut up (you can also use rotisserie chicken)
5 ribs celery, chopped
1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 pound cabbage, shredded
3 cups frozen or fresh green beans, chopped
1 can (28 ounces) chopped tomatoes (or fresh, if you’ve got ’em)
2 cups frozen or fresh corn kernels
2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed and chopped with skins on
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbs. soy sauce
2-4 chicken flavored bouillon cubes (optional)

Oyster crackers

Directions:

Place beef in very large stock pot with some of the onion, a few bay leaves, the thyme, poultry seasoning, garlic powder and the salt and pepper. Add enough cold water to fill the pot 1/3 full. Bring to simmer, skim surface as needed and cook 1/2 hour. Add chicken parts, more water (to cover all the meat) and a little more salt. Continue to simmer 1-2 hours, partially covered.

Prep the vegetables.

When meats are tender, lift them out of the broth. While meat is cooling, add the prepared vegetables, including the remaining onion.

Remove bones and skin from cooled chicken and beef. Chop the meats and add back to the pot after all the veggies have been added. Simmer the soup at least two hours, partially covered. Best when simmered for at least six hours. If simmering this long, add the potatoes later so they don’t get too soft. Water may be added during the cooking process if necessary. Taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and serve with oyster crackers.

Serves 6-8