As the darkness creeps in earlier each day and the temperature drops, we turn to heartier fare we can curl up with to shield against the chilly winter weather. The kind of comfort food that fills us with the warm embrace of the Holiday Season. White Chicken Chili has been on my list of recipes to try for a long while now and as the seasons roll by, I’ve never had the ingredients on hand until now. Typically, it’s considered more of a summer chili, lighter in color as well as ingredients, however this version is not by any means what I would consider light summer fare. I couldn’t find one recipe that combined all the elements I wanted to incorporate, so I used two different versions as a guideline to achieve my desired outcome.
Traditionally, White Chicken Chili derives it’s name from its specific color palette consisting of green bell peppers, green chilies and white beans. Since I had a red bell pepper, a red jalapeño and red beans on hand our bowls were filled with the colors of Christmas, red and green. I’ve lovingly dubbed it White Christmas Chili, and after you’ve had it, you’ll be dreaming of it too!
Soups fixes everything. We turn to it to fix our ills when we are sick because each comforting bite is a familiar hug that warms us from the inside out. Last weekend my family and I went on our yearly apple picking adventure upstate in Tivoli, New York. While we end up drinking and eating more than we do picking, our real joy is not in the bushels of apples we bring home, but in the abundance of fresh vegetables available to pick on the grounds. This is the time of year I wait for all year, when I get to break out the recipes I’ve been saving with more exotic vegetables that we do not often have on hand during the rest of the year.
My sister is an avid vegetable hater, so you can imagine my surprise when she requested Butternut Squash Soup after seeing our squash haul. The prospect of pleasing everyone in the house with one meal and not having to disguise the vegetables masquerading in my sister’s meal was too good to pass up. This soup is derived from a French recipe, incorporating both butternut squash and pumpkin to create a smooth, thick savory soup that perfectly encompasses the flavors of the season.
One of my childhood joys was smelling the familiar aromas of my mom preparing one of her famous soups. My mom had a knack for transforming vegetables into warm velvety bowls of goodness. Carrot, pumpkin, cucumber; whatever the vegetable we would all lick our bowls clean and ask for seconds.
I often times got to be her helper, dicing the vegetables and processing them in batches in our mini food processor. Fascinated by the magic of transforming the liquid into a puree, inevitably overflowing the blender and losing a bowl of soup in the process. Whenever she asked if I wanted to help her in the kitchen my reply was always yes. Little did I know those many afternoons spent in the kitchen with my mom would permanently etch these recipes on my brain.
Now that she’s gone, there is no greater comfort than the first familiar sip, warming me from mouth to heart. I realize that through her wonderful gift of food, she will always be right there cooking beside me.