During our last trip to Ireland, Sheila and I had lunch in many different restaurants, in both big cities and small villages throughout the country. We were surprised to see that there were two comfort foods common to every mid-day menu: Brown Bread and Irish Peasant Soup. While I’m traveling, if I find something I like to eat, I tend to stick with it, just to be on the safe side. Sheila says I should be more adventurous, but IMO, odd sauces can cover up a LOT of mystery meat.
Having said that, we discovered that each of the places had different recipes for the soup. Sheila came up with this combination of vegetables after striking up a friendship with a chatty cook who revealed that the soups are basically created using whatever is fresh from the garden that week.
We had a bumper crop of tomatoes in July. We gave away a couple of bushels to the neighbors, but they stopped answering their doorbells. We were getting buried under Beefsteaks, so the mailman got a bag or two. Ditto the guys down at the precinct.
Sheila canned, sliced, stewed, and diced tomatoes for weeks. We were running out of ways to serve up the big guys and still they kept popping off the vines. That is, up until my buddy across the street harvested his zucchini. We traded zucchini for tomatoes and gave him Sheila’s recipe for Summer Quiche. Great deal! She made a dozen pies and froze them for later. I used to be a meat and potatoes guy, but after Jamaica, I’ll eat almost anything. And, to my surprise, nobody ever died from eating quiche. Or a salad.
My sister sent this recipe from Texas and she says it is hot enough to blow the doors off the horse barn. Definitely hot enough to make my eyes water and my nose run, but just the right combination of heat and flavors for the Superbowl crowd. She got second place in a chili cook-off with one can of beans, but we added the second because of the east coast taste buds.
She buys the dried habanero spices in Texas, where five-alarm chili is the norm, so be very careful with this one. Because of the dried spices, it gets hotter the second day and you’ll need the fire department on the third. It smells great when it’s simmering, so we cook it the night before or the day of the big game. Make ahead at your own risk.
2- 15 oz cans stewed or diced tomatoes with onions, celery and green peppers
2 cans pureed Goya black beans
½ cup sausage, chopped and thoroughly browned
3 more teaspoons sea salt
4 teaspoons chili powder (hot Mexican style)
4 teaspoons onion powder
¼ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon dried habanero seasoning (optional)
Get out your chili/spaghetti pot. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon sea salt evenly in bottom of pot. Turn on medium heat. Add ground sirloin a little at a time and brown evenly, stirring to break up clumps. Drain off the fat.
Add the garlic and tomatoes and stir. Puree the black beans, add to the pot and stir.
Cook sausage in a separate pan, drain and add to the chili pot and let simmer for 15 minutes on low. Stir.
Add the rest of the salt, the chili powder, the onion powder and the brown sugar, stir and let simmer for about an hour. Add the habanero seasoning and stir. Let simmer for another 30 minutes.
Serve with your favorite toppings.
Make sure sour cream is available to cut the heat and enjoy!