Autumn has arrived. With it has come much needed rain, cool weather and a welcome change to the menu.
Soup, chili and stew take turns on the stove while the fragrance of simmering herbs greets visitors on a dimly lit afternoon. Gathering family around the dinner table or a football game brings us together as the leaves begin to blanket the ground.
One-pot meals are not only perfect to warm your bones on a crispy wet evening, but also once assembled they can simmer on the stove while you catch up on your day.
Many recipes are perfect for slow cookers and others encourage my love affair with my deep blue Dutch ovens.
As a little girl we had saltines with our chili unless mom found the time to make her hot spongy cornbread. For soups, we like a crusty hot baguette and stews seem to call for biscuits.
Since the Wilson home has cut back on bread, we enjoy a salad or crispy raw veggies on the side. No matter what, we like it healthy, hot and usually spicy.
Our new favorite is a Black Bean Chicken Chili that I've modified to fit our lifestyle and what I keep in my cupboards.
Our other favorite is Chicken Taco Soup. Although it has similar ingredients as the chili, the soup is a little lighter. I love to use rotisserie chicken to make this go quicker. We usually get three or four meals from those plump roasted jewels (I also boil the bones to make broth that is delectable.)
Black Bean Chicken Chili
1 pound boneless chicken breast, cubed
1 pound of sweet Italian chicken sausage links, cut up
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped (remove the seeds if you don't want heat
1 1/2 tablespoons of chili powder
1 tablespoon of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
1/2 tablespoon of smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 dried bay leaf
6 ounces tomato paste
Salt and pepper to season
1 cup of red wine
2 cups beef broth (add more for a soupier chili)
½ cup of sundried tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can black beans
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh cilantro
Garnish (optional): feta cheese; Greek yogurt (or sour cream); fresh cilantro; finely chopped; avocado
In a large Dutch oven over medium high heat add olive oil, onions, jalapeno and garlic. Cook about five minutes until the onions start to become transparent. Add chicken and sausages.
Add chili powder, cumin, cayenne, paprika, oregano, bay leaf and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Then pour the wine and broth, scrape the bottom of the pot. Let it bubble. Add dried tomatoes and black beans. Continue to stir then cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and leave the lid ajar. Simmer for 35 - 45 minutes. Discard bay leaf and check for seasoning. Stir in cilantro. Ladle chili into a bowl and garnish with feta, yogurt, avocado and cilantro, if desired. A nice square of fresh cornbread would be great on the side!
Chicken Taco Soup
1 larger onion diced
2 quarts chicken broth or 2 quarts hot water with 2 Tablespoons of Better than Bouillon dissolved
1 packet taco seasoning or ¼ cup
2 to 3 cups chicken, diced
1 (15 ounce) can black or kidney beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained or 1 cup frozen
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes or 1 cup fresh
To dress up:
Tortilla chips, crushed
Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
Favorite hot sauce or taco sauce
In Dutch oven over medium heat, soften onion for 5 to 10 minutes in a small amount of olive oil until soft. Add broth and taco seasoning. Heat until it begins to bubble. Add chicken, beans corn and tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with garnishes if desired. Serve with a green salad to complete the “taco effect.”
*Note: You could make this with ground meat if desired. Just brown with onions and drain before adding broth.
Bones from rotisserie chicken with “drippings”
1 chopped onion
2 ribs of celery with leaves
2 unpeeled carrots
1 tablespoon dry basil
1 tablespoon dry oregano
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste
2 quarts of water (more if needed)
Combine all ingredients in large Dutch oven or soup pot. Simmer for several hours on stove. Pour through sieve or colander and discard bones and vegetables. Use for soups, stews or recipes that call for broth.