Spicy Chipotle Chili

I usually have a standard chili recipe that I use - have for over 20 years.  I rarely deter from it.   This last week, we were homebound, due to weather and with the bitter cold, going out and fetching for a few items just was not on the radar.   I was hungry for chili though and scoured the pantry.   I had made soup the day before and my favorite pot was in the outside fridge, so I had to find an alternative.   A friend had recently commented she had made her chili in her crockpot, so I thought, why not.  Now mind you, I am not a big crockpot person.  Its use, for me, has been confined to reheating and transporting, so this was another stretch from my comfort zone.   The recipe below is the result.

Mind you, my husband loves it, but he loves spicy food.  I loved it, but next time, for me (and as I have noted in the recipe) the fewer chipotles, the less spicy.

Spicy Chipotle Chili – Crockpot style

1.5 lbs ground beef (80/20) – I usually make this with 1.5 lbs of beef chunks, cut small, seasoned and slightly browned. 
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 med sweet onion chopped
2-3 T garlic paste
2 cans chili beans
I small can tomato sauce
3-4 chipotle peppers with sauce (I originally used a small can, with sauce.  As the chili cooked, it was apparent the chili was going to be tremendously spicy - so I removed over half the chili's).  
2 T paprika (season to taste)
2 T cumin (season to taste)
1-2 t kosher salt (season to taste)
1 T crushed oregano
1 t pepper
1 T sugar.

Crumble uncooked ground beef into crockpot.  Add, tomatoes, chopped onion, garlic, chili beans, tomato sauce and chipotle peppers with sauce into crockpot.  Sprinkle in paprika, cumin, salt, oregano, pepper and sugar.  Stir slightly.  Place lid onto crockpot, set to low.   If using the crumbled ground beef - Check on chili after first hour, to stir and break down the meat.   Cook for 6-8 hours, depending on crockpot. 

This is a HOT chili.  The number of chipotle peppers in sauce you use will determine the heat.  The more, the hotter.  It has a rich, almost BBQ flavor. 

Condiments:  Sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, green onions and crackers.



Buffalo Bleu Chicken Soup

Its been cold.   Very cold.   One of the "pros" when deciding to move to Missouri 2 years ago, was that the Show Me state had a more moderate climate.   Tell that to old man winter this year.  Today, the high is -4 with a windchill between -25 and -30.  Hello?   When did that become moderate?   Thankfully, the native Wisconsin blood that pulses through this body knows how to feed a half frozen family - its called soups and stews!

So when searching on pinterest for a new recipe (sorry kids, I wasn't in a corn chowder mood), I came across a picture for a Buffalo Chicken Soup.   I followed the links, but they were dead - to just pics and no recipe.  I turned to google ands struck gold.  

Buffalo Bleu Chicken Soup
This soup, adapted from several different recipes I found (isn't that how it always goes), reminded me of a dear friend back in Wisconsin.   We share a love of bleu cheese, gorgonzola, the really creamy, danish and very bleu of them all.   What makes this recipe - is the bleu cheese at the end.  My husband does not share our love for this type of cheese and he still enjoyed it immensely, but really, if you are a bleu cheese lover, try it without and then with and you will understand completely when I say, it's a creamy, tangy and zippier soup with, than without!

So for Forrest, here is the recipe:

Buffalo Bleu Chicken Soup

Serves 4

1/2 c uncooked orzo pasta
1 T olive oil
1/4 c sweet onion, chopped
1 T garlic paste or chunky garlic paste 
2 c (approximately) baby carrots, cut in half
1 T Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix (I buy a large container of the mix, instead of the envelopes)
3 T Cilantro  (you can use fresh or I also use Gourmet Garden as well, depending on the quality of fresh available)
32 oz of Chicken Stock (not broth)
2/3 c your favorite brand of hot sauce
2 T butter
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese
4 oz parmesan cheese
2 cups cooked chicken (I buy one of the rotisserie chickens, pull the meat off and then use it through the week.  Great Bargin at usually 5-6$!)
1/4 c green onions, chopped
1/4 c bleu cheese, crumbled.   For this recipe, I used a buttermilk Bleu - it was fabulous.

Cook orzo in already boiling, salted water, til partially cooked, approximately 3 minutes.   Drain and put aside until later.  

Heat olive in heavy soup-stew pot.  (A type of cast-iron stew pot works great).   Saute onion for a few minutes.  Add garlic paste and half the green onions.  Cook for a few more minutes, til onion is translucent.

Add carrots.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add ranch dressing mix and cilantro.  Stir togethers.

Add chicken stock, hot sauce, cheddar and parmesan cheese.    Stir together.  Add chicken.    Bring entire mix to a simmer.   Reduce heat and simmer 10 minute.  Carrots will be tender, but still have a crunch.

Serve with condiments (this is where the bleu cheese comes in play) - green onions and crumbled bleu cheese.

Printable Buffalo Bleu Chicken Soup