This Show on the Road
November 12, 2008
Friends, we’re taking this show on the road. Or, more accurately, I already took it on the road. To work, to be exact, on Monday. I took the photo up there just before I slurped down that cup of soup—a chipotle chicken chowder—for lunch yesterday. And all I can say is that it’s a good thing my office has a door, or I suspect I would have gotten some strange looks from passersby for photographing the lunch I’d just microwaved. Oh, and also that I’m glad I just bought a ridiculously large gym bag that has more than enough room for my rather bulky camera (not to mention an unwieldy tupperware of chowder).
Somewhere between tucking my camera back in my bag and unsheathing my plastic spoon, my phone rang, so by the time I got around to my first bite of this chowder, it had cooled a bit. But it was still delicious. I knew it would be, because this was the third batch I’ve made. In less than a month. It’s that good. But because, these days, the sun starts to set at 4 PM (I really, really wish I were kidding), I made the first two batches in the dark of night. And since I try not to take photos after dark, we spooned up the first two big pots of this chowder with not even one photo to prove it.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
When I started in on batch number three, I was wracked with guilt. I felt so greedy hoarding this soup for ourselves without sharing it with you. So, I made the third batch last Sunday afternoon, a dreary day when dusk seemed to creep up closer to 3 PM. (When, oh when, is a girl to blog?!?) I snapped a couple shots before the daylight disappeared for the evening, but never got a shot of the final product. Hence the at-work photo shoot. I hope this doesn’t become a habit. I’m thinking it’s time to invest in a quality flash, yes?
But back to the soup. It’s an interesting recipe. It relies heavily on one lonely chipotle pepper, which somehow manages to infuse its way into every single sip of this soup. You start with some oil in a hot pot and toss in that minced chipotle along with soup’s favorite vegetables (carrots, onions and celery) and six (!) cloves of minced garlic. Let those cook until they are nice and soft, add some dried herbs and a stream of chicken broth. After that simmers for about a half hour, whiz the whole thing in the blender. If you’re like me, you’ll be skeptical of that last step. But the whirred-up carrots stain the broth a warm orange color and the pureed vegetables give the soup some body. And you will have blitzed the chipotle pepper into a million bits that will send smoke and heat throughout the broth. So, go with it. Next, add some shredded chicken (an excellent use for leftover roasted chicken) and cubed red potatoes and let the pot bubble away until the tip of a knife slides easily into the potatoes. The chowder, thanks to the pureed vegetables and starchy potatoes, will already have taken on a velvety texture, but swirl in a glug or so of heavy cream just to be sure. A final sprinkling of cilantro speckles the chowder with green and lends the soup a bite of bright freshness.
Eat immediately (I suggest topping with a plop of sour cream or Greek yogurt, cool slices of avocado and a squeeze of fresh lime juice), but be sure to brown bag the leftovers. It makes an incredibly hearty, comforting, lunch that will nourish you after a hard morning’s work (not to mention photo shoot).
Chicken Chowder with Chipotle
Adapted from Cooking Light
1 chipotle chile canned in adobo sauce, minced, plus 1 teaspoon of the adobo sauce
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
6 garlic cloves, crushed
6 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 medium red potatoes (about 12 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 lime wedges
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chopped chile, adobo sauce, onion, and next 6 ingredients (through garlic); cook 7 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Stir in broth; bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Remove pan from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Place one-third of broth mixture in a blender; process until smooth. Pour pureed broth mixture into a large bowl. Repeat procedure in two more batches with remaining broth mixture. Return pureed broth mixture to pan. Stir in potatoes and chicken; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in cream and cilantro; simmer 5 minutes. Serve with lime wedges.