March 20 was the first day of Spring! It’s time to start cleaning up the grill and preparing for all those cookout’s that you have been postponing since fall. But wait, Mother Nature decided that winter deserved one last hurrah - we really hope it is the last. As I write this week’s iCook it cold, and miserable with snow flurries!
What better way to chase away those ‘end-of-winter-blues’ than a big pot of soup, stew or chili! I’m thinking one more pot of chili may be just what the doctor ordered paired of course with the NCAA basketball playoffs. That sounds like a good evening to me.
We eat a lot of soup in the cooler months, so much in fact that a friend just gave me a soup cookbook that boasts 1001 recipes! Butternut and Parsnip, roasted carrot, split pea soups and chili are some of our favorites and I’m always looking for something new.
Soup is a great way to stretch your food dollars. You can make soup from just about anything including leftovers. A bit of leftover roast chicken with some mixed vegetables and chicken stock - maybe a few egg noodles or rice for good measure - and you have a healthy and hearty soup for pennies. Just remember to add some flavor with herbs and spices, and that many packaged stocks contain a lot of sodium.
Once Spring arrives I will have to change my way of thinking about soup. That’s the time to use all those new spring vegetables and start making Gazpacho and Borscht.
While winter is giving us one last few days of soup weather I thought I’d share our family chill recipe. It’s colorful, hearty and the perfect food to accompany some March Madness basketball. Live, Laugh, Love and Eat Well.
Serves 6 to 8
In a stock pot, brown the meat and remove from pan. Add the onions and cook 3 to 5 minutes over medium high heat then add garlic, chili powder, bell pepper, red pepper flakes, and cumin and cook another minute being sure not to burn the garlic.
Add the beer to deglaze the pan. Return the beef and add all the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and then turn back to low and cover. Simmer the chili covered for about an hour and taste. Re-season the pot as desired, and simmer covered for another one to two hours.
We like to serve ours with either corn bread or saltines and top it with cheese. I also will top chili with a dollop of sour cream.