Today I really need to share something fantastic with you. It’s a recipe for the best soup ever. No joke. And since I am not one to keep a wonderful secret to myself, I am paying it forward to you. The base is pureed vegetables and chicken stock, with herbs and spices added at the front end. Cubed potatoes and shredded chicken are added later. And chipotle chili in adobo sauce is the key ingredient. For our amigos vegetarianos, you could use vegetable broth, skip the chicken, add black beans and still have an amazing soup. This soup is rich and thick. It is flavourful on so many levels – the difference between a single note and several chords on the piano (if I can compare flavour to music). I could serve this soup as a main course to dinner guests, and they wouldn’t be left wondering where the rest of dinner was. It’s that good. So I’m sharing the recipe with you.
A recipe is a tricky thing. I rarely follow recipes exactly, mainly because of my innate tendency towards ‘you’re not the boss of me’. For me, recipes are always more of a suggestion or inspiration. I love recipe books with pictures. I’ll gaze at the glossy photo of the finished product, scan the list of ingredients, and then shut the book and do my own thing. I’m not saying that it always works out. I’m just admitting that this is how I roll.
I remember the day we met, this soup and I. It was a cold winter evening in Paris (the close one, not the fancy one) and we had gathered at Cathy and Rhonda’s house for book club. Cathy prepared this amazing soup for us and in doing so, raised the bar for book club food and also changed my life forever. We all hounded her for the recipe and she agreeably shared the link to the recipe. I have kept the website bookmarked since then, on the laptop, the ipad and my phone, just to be sure. And then the unthinkable happened.
The website was no longer available. Gone. So I had to go searching because I wasn’t ready to let this soup go. Interestingly enough, I found many versions of the recipe online. They all attributed it back to the Kitchen Sink, but all had some tiny little changes. I too had tweaked the recipe in some key areas so I can’t really blame them. But I can’t seem to find the original anymore. I know there were Herbes de Provence involved originally and that ingredient seems to have been replaced by oregano (I'm sticking with my H de P because the French know what they're doing with that concoction). And I admit that I add bacon, because as we all know, bacon makes everything better. Corn is also something I throw in. Those tiny little morsels add sweetness and colour to any dish. And the cream – who are we kidding? I am never going to stop at ¼ cup of cream. If I have to buy the 250 ml carton or even the 500 ml carton, it’s all going in the soup. Life is short. Just put the cream in the soup and just love it. I have also added a couple of drops of cilantro and lime oil. Essential oils are my new favourite kitchen trick. I can wash and chop a dirty, wilted, overpriced bunch of cilantro from the grocery store, or I can add a single drop of cilantro essential oil and bam! Done.
As you can see, I am all about making the recipe my way. But you can’t play fast and loose with everything. I have recently learned an important lesson: don’t mess around with the chipotle pepper and adobo sauce. This is where your flavor comes from, but it also brings the fire. When I made this soup last week, I haphazardly doubled the pepper and adobo sauce because a) you aren’t the boss of me and b) my man like his food spicy. Well, it was so hot that I had to go back and double the recipe with more broth and more potatoes. The soup is so inherently full of flavour that doubling the liquid did not result in a watering down of the taste. And it’s still pretty darn spicy. Now we have a pot that might just get us through the winter. It’s sitting on the back porch because there’s nowhere else to stash it and the poor man’s walk-in works just fine. If it goes missing in the days to come, I won't even blame you. This soup could make a criminal out of anyone.
Here is a link to this glorious soup. http://www.weheartfood.com/2009/11/chipotle-chicken-chowder.html
And don’t forget to make it your own! Try it out and let me know what changes you’ve made!
Kari Raymer Bishop
Lover of Jesus, cheeses and tropical breezes... seeking balance in life, even as I embrace new challenges and chase new dreams. I am wife, mother, daughter and friend, as well as teacher, entrepreneur, activist, writer, beekeeper and hostess. Come along on the journey through my long-awaited midlife crisis!