November 21, 2014

Chili Stew Soup

What, exactly, is the culinary distinction between soup, stew, and chili? Each must have it's own unique qualities, right? As a non-meat eater (or cooker), I have a hard time grasping the differences between them. To me, it seems that thick soups containing large chunks of slowly cooked meat are considered stew rather than soup. But I'd call some of the soups I make stew, ones with thick bases and large chunks of vegetables. The reason for this line of questioning is that I have no idea what to call the chili stew soup I made the other night. I'm leaning towards chili. Let's just agree to call it Butternut Chili until someone of you can set me straight on the foodie definitions.
As I made it up as I went along, I don't have exact measurements to share. But here's the basic gist of it.
Butternut Chili
1 butternut squash, halved and seeded
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 poblano peppers, chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1- 1.5 C cooked black beans (or 1 can, rinsed & drained)
garlic, minced (about 1 Tbs?)
*chipotle peppers in adobo, minced (about 4 tsp?)
ground cumin (2 tsp?)
chili powder (2 tsp?)
salt (1/2 tsp?)
3.5 C vegetable broth

1. Heat oven to 400 F. Cut & seed squash. Rub flesh with olive oil and put cut side down on a roasting tray. Roast until soft, about 1 hour. Allow to cool.

2. Prepare other ingredients. Heat some olive oil in a soup pot on medium heat. Brown the onion with some salt, stirring occasionally. Add red & poblano peppers and sweet potato. Saute for several minutes. Add garlic, chipotle, cumin, chili. Stir well for a minute. Add the beans and a cup of broth, scrape the pan, and allow to simmer.

3. Remove the skins from the cooled squash. Puree the squash with the remaining broth. Add puree to the simmering soup. Continue to simmer until desired texture is reached, stirring occasionally.

*WARNING: This turned out a bit high on my spicy heat scale. The slightly sweet tastes of the squash and potato pair well with the smoky heat of the chipotle, but it was it bit too much heat for my liking. I ate this with a generous plop of plain yogurt on top. The yogurt cooled the heat and made for a nice creamy addition.

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