Thursday, October 18, 2012

Creamy Chipotle Pork Soup

Do you know one of the good things about the cooler fall weather, and the onset of winter?  Oh, come now, don’t be so quick to say nothing.  There are a few benefits, but the one I’m talking about tonight is the beginning of “Soup Weather.”  For me, that’s a big one.  I adore soups - any and all kinds of soups.  And, each year I challenge myself to come up with one or two new recipes.  Not that we don’t have favorites, that I make each year - Knoephla, Italian Sausage Tomato Tortellini and Zuppa Toscana, just to name a few, but I like to try new things. Plus, I love the way a soup starts out as a small idea in my head, and then slowly takes shape.  That’s how tonight’s recipe came about.
Last night, when I was looking in my pantry, I saw a can of chipotle peppers and green chiles.  They called out to me, begging to be used.  I knew the forecast for today was supposed to be windy, wet and very chilly, so what better way to warm up than with a soup?  If I made a spicy soup, it would warm us up from the inside out.  Perfect!

So, what type of soup was I going to make with those two ingredients?  They swirled around in my head for quite a while, before I started talking it out to a friend.  I originally thought about using ground beef, or maybe chicken, but settled on the classic combination of pork and chipotle peppers, instead.  After that, the rest just fell into place.  I decided to incorporate sour cream to take the edge off the chipotle peppers; otherwise the heat can quickly overpower any recipe.  The finished product did not disappoint.

It definitely packs some punch from the peppers, but wasn’t one dimensional in taste.  Beyond that, subtle hints of cumin and lime, depth from the chicken broth and tomatoes and the peppery bite of cilantro all encased in a creamy base. 

But, be warned, this isn’t for the faint of heart.  You can adjust the spice level a little, by the number of chipotle peppers you put in, but it will still have some kick.  If you leave them out altogether, you lose the backbone of the recipe.

Here’s your Cast of Characters

1 Tbsp. butter
2 Lbs pork roast or chops, cubed
1 Onion, diced
1 Yellow bell pepper, diced
2 Teaspoons minced garlic
1 - 2 Chipotle peppers with 2 - 3 teaspoons adobo sauce, divided
5 Cups chicken broth
1 Can diced green chiles
1 Tablespoon lime juice
2 Teaspoons Lawry's season salt
1 Teaspoon, each, black pepper, cumin, Mrs. Dash onion & herb seasoning, McCormick Perfect Pinch garlic & herb seasoning
2 Cups cooked rice (I prefer Jasmine rice but long-grain white can be used, too.)
2 Cups light sour cream
2 Tablespoons flour
1 14.5 Oz. can diced tomatoes
1 Handful cilantro

Melt butter in large pot.  Add pork, onions, yellow pepper and garlic.

Sprinkle a little Lawry's and pepper over all, brown the pork slightly - about 5 minutes.

After pork has browned a little, add 1 teaspoon adobo sauce.  Stir throughout, and cook another five minutes.

Add chicken broth, green chiles, lime juice and seasonings.  Bring to a boil, turn to medium heat, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, mince chipotle peppers and 1 - 2 teaspoons of adobo sauce.  I used 2 peppers plus 2 teaspoons adobo, but depending on how well you can tolerate the heat, you might want to start with 1 of each.

Next, add the sour cream and flour.  Process until well-blended.

Add can of tomatoes, juice and all, to the processor.

Pulse 5 or 6 times, until blended & tomatoes are in smaller pieces.

Once the soup has cooked for 15 minutes, add the cream mixture and cooked rice.  Mix well, and turn to medium-low heat.  Snip cilantro with kitchen shears.

Stir well, and continue cooking for another 10 - 15 minutes until pork is cooked through and tender, and the soup has thickened and the flavors melded.

Serve with a spoonful of sour cream and a garnish of cilantro leaves.