Chili Lime Soup with Yams


I have been meaning to write this soup up for quite a while.  Since we cooked it again on Sunday (my bother in law, Greg came by for lunch), I had another shot at it.  I think that one of the reasons that I keep forgetting to write something about this soup is that it is there really is nothing to making it.  It is the sort of soup that doesn’t require an especially long cooking time or extensive preparation.

DSC_0023Despite being very easy to prepare, you get a fine reward.  The roast chilies are accented wonderfully by the sweetness of the softened yam.  There is a slight amount of heat from the chopped jalapenos and a wonderful tartness from the lime juice to clean things up.  If you roast the chilies ahead of time in bulk, they freeze very well and will allow you to throw this together pretty much any time you want.

I really like this soup topped with fried tortilla chips, but I realize that I am somewhat spoiled with a really nice deep fryer.  They are totally optional and can be mad in a small wok with oil since you don’t need to fry up too many.  Just make sure to get the oil heated to somewhere below smoking temperature and get the tortilla strips nice and crisp.

One of the things that I really like about this soup (aside from the rich, bright flavor and satisfying thickness) is that the flavor profile goes with just about any other dish you should choose to serve.  For our Sunday lunch, we served it with kefta, chicken emanadas, and a nice tapas of chickpeas and chorizo.  Cornbread rounded things out.  But heck, it would have been fine as a stand along or with a simple dinner of grilled chicken with salad.  Looks pretty good too!


Chili Lime Soup with Yams
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Latino
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 large red onion, half chopped and half thinly sliced
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • ½ to ¾ lb. red yam, peeled and cut into ½ inch thick slices
  • 1 to 2 jalapenos, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Poblano Chili, roasted, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 4)
  • ½ cup lime juice
  • 2 corn tortillas, cut into strips and fried until crisp
  • 2 tbs. cilantro
  • sour cream
  1. In a medium sauce pan, saute the onions and garlic until softened.
  2. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, add yams and cook until yams are softened; about 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Add the chilies and simmer for 10 minutes to blend flavors. Add lime juice and serve. Garnish with cilantro, fried tortilla strips, and sour cream to taste.


Chickpea and Spinach Soup Flavored with Cumin and Tahini

Garbanzo Spinach SoupThis is a rich one…and considerably less spicy than most things that we have on our table.  I do believe that this particular soup will be a repeat visitor to our table.  It fills a somewhat special niche in the soup world; it is a creamy soup that does not involve cooking with cream.  For anyone that has had the unpleasant experience of breaking and thereby rendering a cream-based soup…unpleasant (or at least very unattractive), you will probably understand the immediate appeal.  Instead, this soup uses a combination of tahini and starch to lend a thick, rich texture that, while not a direct substitute for cream, gets pretty close.

This soup packs highly flavorful punch from the combination of cumin and coriander.  I think that the combination of the chickpeas and potatoes softens the impact of this spice combination, allowing the distinct flavor of the saffron to shine.  The flavor profile is finished off with a small dose of cayenne.  The cayenne doesn’t really provide much heat, but has a sharpness that balances the dish.

This was a great lead in to a period of soup experimentation that we went through last month.  This soup spree was kicked off by the arrival of our flameware dutch over from Clay Coyote Pottery.   This is an amazing piece of gear.  Stylish, durable, and really, really consistent in application of heat.  The best part is that it can be use on flame, electric, glass, whatever.  I couldn’t be more pleased with this new addition to the kitchen.  It pretty much lives on our stove top and will probably be supplemented by on of their flameware tagines.



Chickpea and Spinach Soup Flavored with Cumin and Tahini
Adapted from 400 Soups by Anne Sheasby
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Mediterranean
  • 2 Tbs. Olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • ½ large red onion, ½ chopped, ½ thinly sliced
  • 1½ tsp. cumin, roated and ground
  • 1½ tsp corriander, roasted and ground
  • 3 cups stock
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • pinch saffron
  • 1½ to 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • ½ tsp. cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water
  • 4 Tbs. Tahini
  • 5 oz. spinach
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne
  1. In large stock pot, heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic over medium-high heat until softened. Stir in the cumin and corriander and cook until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add the stock, the saffron, and potato. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes. Add the chickpeas and simmer an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk together the cornstarch, water, and tahini. Add to soup incrementally while stirring, Add spinach and cayenne. Simmer an additional several minutes to blend flavors and thicken.


House Clam Chowder

House Clam Chowder

Clam chowder is sort of tough.  Sure, anyone can make potato soup with some clam scraps….just add enough bacon and it will be fine, right?  I have to say that this sort of clam chowder is, well, offensive.  It has no individuality, no style and no identity.  You could likely pour a better version out of a can.

There is  quite a challenge to be had in trying to make a dish like clam chowder unique.  The main issue is that you really need to work within the parameters of the dish.  You need to make something that, at the end of the day can be easily identified as clam chowder yet have something tangible that is your own.  When you are dealing with a cream-based clam soup with potatoes, there is simply not much room to work.  You need to keep the clams, the potatoes, enough of the cream to keep the soup rich, and get it thick without allowing it to get starchy, or worse, breaking the soup.  This is a pretty tight box to work in…and a challenge worth taking on.  Although the chowder at road-side stands along the coast is wonderful (and it really is), there is everything right about creating something that reflects a bit of yourself…. 

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Turnip and Roast Sesame Soup

Turnip Sesame SoupI tend to forget how much I like this soup and don’t make it frequently enough.  The turnips and roasted sesame seeds give the soup an astringent, almost bitter quality that is brought back just a little bit by the broth, which is very slightly sweet.  The small portion of greens that is added may seem like a minor touch, but because this soup is so austere, they play an important role in providing a touch of additional flavor variety.  I like some of the more spicy or bitter greens such as mizuna or shungiku (a type of edible chrysanthemum), but spinach would be nice too.  In this iteration of the soup, I added a pinch of Sichuan pepper to provide just a little bit of bite to the flavor.  I think a pinch of nutmeg would also be a good, but slightly unconventional addition, although I haven’t tried it…. 

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Yam Miso Soup – An Enigmatic and Homely Soup for the Lazy

Yam Miso SoupI have to admit, this is one of the least attractive soups that I know how to make.  I mean, there really is no feasible way to get a decent photo of it, as it looks equally bad in most lighting.  Seeing it in real life isn’t much of an improvement; it just sits there looking vaguely orange.  It is just plain homely.

As it turns out, life is not always about looks, which should be comforting to most of us.  Sometimes it is about things like bright, clean flavors and smooth, creamy textures.  Sometimes, it is also about being too lazy to make a proper meal.  If any of the above fits your way of thinking, this soup is probably a great match…. 

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