Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Kitchen Sink Chili-Stew-Soup

This dish all started because I made a vow to myself that I will not waste any more fruit or vegetables. I’m an overzealous shopper, so I always buy enough lettuce or plums for an army. Most recently, my wilting produce included half a red bell pepper, half a yellow bell pepper, and green onions. I also had an accidentally purchased can of S&W chili-seasoning kidney beans. Thinking I could make some sort of chili type soup, I chopped the vegetables and mixed them and the beans (not drained) with a box of chicken broth, garlic powder, and World Market mesquite spice.

The result was fine, but unsatisfying. This veggie soup was in desperate need of meat. I walked over to the Farmer’s Market and asked my butcher for a pound of stew meat. Back home I coated the cubed beef in flour, salt, pepper, and mesquite, and I browned it. I tossed it into the pot. Better, but something was still missing.

I gazed at the frying pan with its leftover layer of beef fat and thought … onions. Out I went again, this time to the little produce shop on the corner of Fairfax and Rosewood. One yellow onion later I was back in my kitchen coarsely chopping the onion and caramelizing it in the fat. Into the pot that went, with even more garlic powder and more mesquite. I let it all simmer for two hours, and OMG! Perhaps the tastiest kitchen sink dish I’ve made so far.

While at the market I’d also bought a bottle of Pinot Noir and a French baguette for dipping in the broth. But now plain bread seemed lackluster in light of the hearty stew soup I’d concocted. I opened the fridge, and there like a small miracle before me was half a carton of buttermilk, left behind from my parents’ recent visit. I also had a chunk of cheddar cheese. I hopped online, Googled recipes for cheddar buttermilk biscuits, and came up with one that called for cayenne pepper too—it seemed perfect. And it was!

Add to this sharing the meal with someone I adore, hours of good conversation, John Coltrane and Art Blakey playing in the background, and that bottle of red wine, and this turned out to be the recipe for a perfect evening.

Kitchen Sink Chili-Stew-Soup

  • Half red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • Half yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 6 green onions, green and white parts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 lb. chuck/shoulder (stew meat), cubed into half to one-inch pieces and browned in flour, salt, pepper, and mesquite spice
  • 1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped, caramelized in the beef fat
  • 1 32-ounce box chicken broth
  • Garlic powder
  • World Market mesquite seasoning blend

See the description above the photo. Note that I went heavy on the mesquite to give this soup a real kick.

Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits
adapted from
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used almost a teaspoon)
  • 1/2 cup cold butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

1) In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cayenne.

2) Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

3) Add the cheese and toss.

4) Stir in buttermilk. The dough will be sticky.

5) Divide dough into eight parts to make drop biscuits. Place on an ungreased baking sheet.

6) Bake at 425 degrees F for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.