Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside...

Well, in the Dominican Republic, it's not "cold." "Fresh" or "brisk" might be a better fit, and only at night. I'm sweating as I'm writing this right now. Either way, the temperature is dropping, and it makes me want soup and hot chocolate and Christmas tunes in the background.

If you haven't noticed, I love the holidays. It's never too soon to decorate the house, put up twinkling Christmas lights, wrap presents, and eat holiday treats. There were about five years when I was in high school/college that our Christmas tree did not come down, at all, between Christmas's. It was magical, until it was embarrassing. 5 years is the limit - if you don't take it down, you can't put it back up again! 

I made 2 soups in the last couple of weeks that satisfied my winter food cravings. Both soups have robust, creamy broths without using any cream. The Curried Vegetable Soup's blend of Indian spices are absorbed by the vegetables of your choice; I chose potatoes, carrots, auyama (pumpkin/winter squash), eggplant, tomatoes, onions and garlic.  Mama's White Chili is a recipe from my mom. White beans and corn, combined with chicken and seasonings, makes this the healthiest chili I've tried, as well as one of the tastiest. 

Choosing wine for a curry dish can be tricky. Because this stew is so thick and hearty, I think the Curried Vegetable Soup is best with a fruity red wine, like Tempranillo, or a fruity rosé, like White Zinfandel.  For Mama's White Chicken Chili, a Chardonnay pairs nicely because of its creamy, vanilla flavor.  It's heavier white wine, so it complements the dish without being overwhelmed by the chili's flavors. 

Curried Vegetable Soup

Mama's White Chicken Chili

I've got some exciting news this week, virtual world! Even though I'm in the DR, the international school I work for celebrates Thanksgiving, meaning that I have Thursday and Friday off from work this week!

You thought that was the exciting news, didn't you? 

Even though the vacation days are well received (trust me), the real jaw dropper is that...
I'm hosting my first Thanksgiving!

I'm taking advantage of both days to host Thanksgiving at my house on Friday night! The menu is already planned, and the invitations are out. It will be a Thanksgiving without turkey, but a delicious, thanks-filled evening nonetheless! Wish me luck (it's my first time).

Right now I'm in Step 1: "Pep Talk Mode". Patrick Swayze and Baby's Dirty Dancing scene as they land the big lift is repeated over and over in my head. Sylvester Stallone, jabbing and fist pumping in general, is an image I'm trying to focus on. You know, for inspiration. From the "greats".

The Amurican Flag is fitting for Thanksgiving, right? A nice touch.
Step 1: "Pep Talk Mode", also goes hand-in-hand with Step 2: Preparation: getting the shopping done at a reasonable price and preparing a schedule of how I'm going to get everything made for Friday evening. Jab those high prices! Go on! Fist pump with me!
Is it ironic that the first pictures that are not originally mine,
taken by the fiance nor I,
are of Sylvester Stallone?
To everyone else out there celebrating the day with their families and friends - Happy Turkey Day! Take pictures to share with us on La Buena Fe!!

Curried Vegetable Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil, separated
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes, stewed with preferred seasonings  (2 medium tomatoes peeled, seeded, and chopped would also work)
2-3 small potatoes, chopped into cubes
1 large eggplant, chopped into cubes
1 large carrot, chopped 
1 pound auyama/pumpkin/winter squash (butternut squash, acorn squash), chopped into cubes
3 cups chicken/vegetable stock
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
salt and pepper to taste 

First, place the potatoes, eggplant, carrots, and squash in a large mixing bowl. Add the curry, ground coriander, cumin, paprika, salt, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix well. The trick to vegetable soup is to make sure your vegetables are well seasoned!

Next, heat the last tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the onions over medium heat until they are soft.  Add the garlic for 30 seconds, and then stir in the eggplant, carrots, and whatever other vegetable you would like to add. Turn the heat to low and cover the skillet for around 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Make sure to stir occasionally so the vegetables do not burn.

Finally, pour in the tomatoes, chicken/vegetable stock, potatoes, and squash, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and the let the soup simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the potatoes and squash are tender. Add salt if necessary. Serve hot!

Serves 4-6.

Mama's White Chicken Chili 

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium chopped onions
2 cloves of garlic
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper sauce (hot sauce)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 (11 oz.) can of white corn, drained
1 (15 oz.) can of cannellini beans, drained
1 (15 oz.) can butter beans, drained
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast

First, heat the vegetable oil in your cooking pot and cook the onions until they are beginning to soften. Add the garlic for around 30 seconds. Stir in the remaining ingredients, except the chicken. Heat to boiling, and then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.  Finally, add the chicken and cook until hot!

Serves 4-6.

*** Squeeze extra lime juice in both soups for a surprising kick! ***

1 comment:

  1. Yum! Your vegetable soups looks amazing!!!!! I will definitely try it on a cold winter's day!
    I love the Christmas pictures!