soups, stews, and chili

Thai Chicken Coconut Soup
  • 1  can (14 oz.) coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cup   chicken broth
  • 6  slices fresh ginger
  • 1  stalk fresh lemongrass, cut in 1-in. pieces
  • 1  pound skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1-in. chunks
  • 1  cup  sliced mushrooms
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lime juice
  • 1  tablespoon  Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla)
  • 1  teaspoon  sugar
  • 1  teaspoon  Thai chili paste
  • 1/4  cup  fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4  cup  fresh cilantro

In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, broth, ginger, and lemongrass and bring to boil over high heat. Add chicken, mushrooms, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and chili paste. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is firm and opaque, 5 to 10 minutes. Discard lemongrass. Garnish servings with basil and cilantro.


Chicken Pumpkin Chili
Yield: 6 Servings
Source: Framingham, MA Newcomers Club

2 tb olive oil
2 c onion, chopped
2 c red bell pepper ,chopped
3 tb jalapeno, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c beer
1 c chicken broth
1/4 c ripe olives, sliced
3 tb chili powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp salt
29 oz canned tomatoes with their juice, chopped
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts cubed
2 c cooked pumpkin or butternut squash peeled, cubed
2 tb cilantro, chopped
1 tb cocoa powder
16 oz canned pinto beans, drained
6 tb scallions sliced
1 1/2 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
6 tb sour cream

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Saute the onions until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes more. Add the beer, broth, olives, chili powder, coriander, salt, tomatoes and chicken. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, cover partially and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin, cilantro, cocoa and beans. Cook for 5 minutes. Serve in individual bowls, topped with the cheese, sour cream and scallions.


3 Sisters Casserole
The Native American 3 Sisters of Life David Auwen 1992

Native American Indians honored their three staples – corn, beans and squash – by referring to them as the “3 Sisters of Life”. These plants not only provide a balanced set of Nutrients, they symbiotically nourish and protect each other when they are grown together. The beans provide nitrogen for the corn, which in turn provide poles for the beans, while the spiny squash provide protection from the raccoons and deer. As a demonstration of the true partnership between the gardener and the land, Native American crops included snap and dry beans, summer and winter squash, and corn.

According to Native American tradition, corn is called the Sacred Mother and revered as a gift from the gods. Corn, the all-nourishing sacred food, has been used in innumerable rituals to symbolize and honor fertility, renewal and power. The midsummer harvest was a time of joyful celebration. Natures many varieties of corn can be eaten fresh on the cob, roasted over hot coals, cooked in soups or stews, or ground for meal or flour.

Beans and corn form a complimentary protein so they were often used together in cooking. The many types of beans (pinto, red kidney, soldier) were cooked in a variety of ways, most commonly boiled and fried. Most of the beans that were grown were dried and stored for future use.

Both summer and winter squash were widely cultivated. Fresh and dried squash were boiled, baked, fried and cooked in stews. Native American cooks seasoned squash with nut butters or maple syrup, while colonists used butter and cinnamon or nutmeg.

Here is a colorful casserole which honors the Native American “3 Sisters of Life”. Enjoy!

3 Sisters Casserole
Serves 4-6

1 cup dried pinto or kidney beans
A pinch of chili powder
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 cup of diced onion
2-3 cups of diced squash
3 cups of corn
1 cup of diced red and green peppers
A pinch of salt

Soak the beans overnight, then drain the water, rinse and add 3 1/2 cups of fresh water and the pinches of cayenne and chili powder. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour. Meanwhile, saute the garlic, onion, peppers, cumin and another pinch of cayenne until the onions are soft. When the beans are soft, stir in the sauteed onions. Then add the squash on the top and cook until tender (about 15 minutes). Next, add the corn and cook for 10 more minutes. Finally, add the salt and mix the casserole together. Garnish with lots of chopped parsley or scallions. Serve hot with tortillas and a salad. Makes great leftovers too!

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