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involved cookoff patron
Chili cookoffs...
Two Spring Soups...
(Food #7: July 26, 2000)

...But first, a chili report!
serving chili

   We've just completed three chili cookoffs. In the first one we entered as a team: my friends Chuck and Kevin and I. We placed third with Chuck's white chicken chili recipe and my Spider Cañon "La Gallina" white chicken chili seasoning. Of the chicken chilis in the contest, ours was best, hands-down; but the winner was an entry named "Bambi's Brew," or something like that, a venison chili. That crowd was a red meat bunch; we were lucky to even place.
   In the second contest I competed alone with a new, very hearty, but untried chili, but the nod went to my old teammates Chuck and Kevin with Chuck's "Chili Rojo Y Verde." I placed third. Hey! My recipe needs a little refinement; I'll be back.
Chuck and Kevin
Chuck and Kevin won Cookoff #2

   We three teamed up again for the third contest with "Chili Rojo Y Verde," by now a proven competitor, and we won first place. I was very pleased: first, because we won, and second, because we won with a competition version of my Spider Cañon Medium Southwest Chili Powder.
   All three contests were for an annual event in our area, "Relay For Life," a fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society. We three were glad to participate in the cookoffs, and, all told, our three pots of chili accounted for $128.00 in tickets/donations to the cause.
Happy cookoff patron
...great way to make new friends.
   Truthfully, I don't care if I don't see any more chili for a while, so I've rekindled my interest in something I like almost as much...

...Spring Soups
   The first soup I'll describe is based on a recipe that's in vogue right now, and one of the recipes was given to me by a dear church sister. I couldn't resist tampering with it, of course; but the credit still goes to her for sharing it with me. Thanks Bonna!

Taco Soup
   I think I first became aware of taco Soup in the Indian Harvest catalog. There is a picture of a yummy-looking red soup with lots of goodies floating around in it in this beautiful blue-ringed bowl. I kept hearing "taco soup" here and "taco soup" there, so when Bonna Roberts gave me the recipe I was delighted.
   This soup had a lot going for it: corn, beans, tomatoes, Southwest flavor accent, and—the clincher—crock-pot cooking. I'm a sucker for anything cooked in a crock-pot.
   The first pot was just what it should have been, rich and thick. But, I thought, I really wanted a soup with lots of broth; rich taste, but soupy instead of stewey. I think it reminded me too much of chili. Since recipes are, to me, thought stimulators and not carved in stone, I didn't feel bad about making a few mods. Here's the result:
    Spider Cañon Taco Soup
    To a crock pot set on "low," add:
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes, liquid and all
  • 2 tomato cans water (3 to 4 cups)
  • 1 10-oz. can Rotel tomatoes and chiles, liquid and all
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, liquid and all
  • 1/2-can red kidney beans, drained
  • 1/2-can pinto beans, drained
  • 1/2-can hominy, drained
  • 1 1-oz. package ranch dressing mix
  • 1 tsp. salt

    In a skillet, brown thoroughly until all liquid evaporates:

  • 1/2-lb. ground chuck

    Skim off all the remaining fat. Add:

  • 1 tsp. crushed or minced garlic
  • 1 "makes-one-pound" package of Spider Cañon Chili Powder (Southwest Medium or Cottonwood)
  • 1 medium onion, diced or course-chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, diced

    Sauté meat, spices, and vegetables until the onions are transparent. Add:

  • 1/2-cup water, beer, or beef or chicken broth

    Stir until the skillet is deglazed and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the meat and vegetables to the crock pot.

    Cook on "low" as long as you can stand to wait (4 to 6 hours is good, overnight is better.)

    Salt again to taste.

   This recipe makes a full crock-pot of delicious, spicy soup. It keeps well in the refrigerator, and it freezes well.
   I should make a few comments about the recipe and some variations. For example, the Rotel tomatoes and chiles really add to the Southwest flavor of the soup. Rotels are pretty spicy, and the "extra hot" variety are downright hot—but good. Go easy on this ingrediant. One 10-oz. can is enough for your first pot. If you can't find Rotels in your store, there are several other national brands that you can use.
   I'm not really fond of kidney beans, so instead of the beans listed in the recipe, I like these:
1 oz. dried chick peas
1 oz. dried pinto beans
1 oz. dried great northern beans
3 oz. dried black-eyed peas

Pick over the beans (especially the pintos) and remove any dirt, small stones, or foreign materials. Soak the beans overnight in water. Discard the soak water. To a pressure cooker add:
2 cups water
the soaked beans

Cook the beans for about six minutes at 15 psi; remove the cooker from the heat and let it cool naturally.

OR

Cook the soaked beans in a small pot until they are just tender.

Substitute the cooked dried beans for the canned ones in the recipe.

   One last touch. I like a faint hint of sweetness in soup, so I always add 1 level tablespoon of dark brown sugar to the main ingredients. I may also add a tbsp. or two of raisins.
   This soup is almost as much fun to make as it is to eat. I hope you'll be able to try it.

How about a light cream soup?

continued...

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