Genius Recipes

Deborah Madison's Potato and Green Chile Stew

By • September 3, 2014 • 23 Comments

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Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Executive Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: This month, we're teaming up with Kitchen Arts & Letters for a Back to the Kitchen Genius Series. Managing Partner Matt Sartwell will share memorable recipes from his 20+ years running the famed cookbook store; we get to revamp our weekday routines.

First up: The perfect cowboy-style comfort stew for the season ahead -- which also happens to be vegetarian, speedy, and made all in one pot.

Coming back from vacation isn't easy. Checking our calendars and suiting up for real life isn't easy; not lying prone on a beach all day and eating blueberries for dinner isn't easy. So we could afford a few more ways to make all of it easy -- or at least easier -- on ourselves.

Deborah Madison's Potato and Green Chile Stew is a dinner for easing out of our summer clothes and settling into fall -- a one-pot meal that's unusual in that it doesn't simmer very long and is easily made vegetarian or vegan, but is still hearty enough that it can truly be the only thing you eat (and the only pot you dirty) tonight.

More: Another genius coup -- one-pan tomato basil pasta.

Even if we're feeling worn by the specter of renewed responsibility, still a little sore from sunburns and stiff from road trips and water sports and long hikes -- we can handle this soup. It's the first thing we should strive to make, right after finishing off the bag of chips and the last of the roadside peaches.



This is all because you're coaxing a whole lot from few ingredients, in not much time. Other than charring a poblano and rubbing off as much of its blackened skin as you can, making this soup is a straight shot that takes all of 30 minutes, start to finish.

Chop the chile, plus onions, garlic, and potatoes; sauté them with a nip of cumin and coriander; pour in stock (or better yet, water); then let it all bubble till the potatoes turn to the partly-melted, partly-chunked consistency of your choice (use the back of the spoon, for mashing, and your discretion).

Every ingredient contributes, which makes this the rare soup you can make successfully without having good stock (or cream or butter) on hand. You've got more than enough to drive the flavor from the chile and spices, and plenty of body and structure from the potato.

What pulls together is sweet, buttery, spicy, and smoky: a surprisingly soft landing for our tumble out of summer, but one that encourages us to get back up again. A little of summer's vim, set straight by a fall frame of mind.

Deborah Madison's Potato and Green Chile Stew

Adapted slightly from What We Eat When We Eat Alone (Gibbs Smith, 2009)

Serves 1 to 2

1 or 2 long green chiles or poblano chiles, roasted and peeled
1 tablespoon sunflower seed oil or other vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large russet or 5 smaller potatoes (a scant pound), peeled and chopped into 1 1/2-inch chunks
Salt and pepper
1 cup chicken stock or water
Sour cream to finish
Chopped cilantro to finish

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thanks this week -- and the next 3 weeks! -- to Matt Sartwell at Kitchen Arts & Letters.

Photos by Alpha Smoot

Jump to Comments (23)

Tags: deborah madison, stew, potatoes, chiles, vegetarian, vegan-friendly, special diets, everyday cooking, kitchen arts & letters, matt sartwell, cookbooks, genius, how-to & diy, back to the kitchen

Comments (23)


5 days ago Rebecca

Yes it should be fine, just don't overcook or your potatoes will get "soggy." I would cook till just slightly firm so reheating shouldn't't be a problem.


5 days ago bmallorca

Do the flavors meld even better if you make it the night before? Or do things just get soggy?


5 days ago Gigi

I finally made this tonight for my husband and myself with leftover red-skin mashed potatoes because I wanted us to sample it before I served it for guests at our bonfire this Saturday night!! It's a winner for hubby loved it. Can't wait to serve it to our family and friends by the campfire! We're not vegans so I may top it off with chopped bacon, cilantro and the sour cream...yum. Thank you for sharing this wonderfully versatile recipe. xoxo


5 days ago bmallorca

Thank you Rebecca! Maybe tonight...!


5 days ago bmallorca

I've got just a few tomatillos from my farm box. Can I add them along with the chilies? Or do I have to do something different with them? I've only cooked tomatillos once, a while back. Thanks!


5 days ago Rebecca

Yes, I would wash thoroughly and chop as you would tomatoes and add with onions, cover pan to cook them a bit. Then proceed with recipe. Hope this helps.


10 days ago jim

Great flavor, fast, foolproof. What more can you ask? I usually use broth and a bit of leftover chicken but it is not really necessary. I consider this a pantry dish in that I always have all of the ingredients or can make a reasonable substitution.


12 days ago Monica

Hello, is there a reason you seem to prefer water to broth or stock? thanks


12 days ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

I think there's plenty of flavor and body from the other ingredients, and water keeps this vegetarian (and vegan, if you skip the sour cream) and makes it even more conducive to making on a whim.


11 days ago Monica

Thanks! Seems like a lot of people are starting to stray a bit from broth or stock so was just curious.


14 days ago liamoran

I am making this right now and my apartment smells amazing. I am waiting for the neighbors to just show up...with bowls. I live in Colorado and this is green chile season for us. Many farmers markets will have employees roasting the chiles in giant drums right in the market. The smell is intoxicating. I did add some leftover roasted chicken to the soup. I can't wait to have a happy lunch at work next week.


15 days ago Johanna

I also start w ground beef and garlic sauteed, then do the rest.


17 days ago TERRYE HEATLEY

OOOps! almost forgot, The Shed doesn't use the sour cream garnish but serves it with garlic toast. Dang, now I'm hungry.


17 days ago TERRYE HEATLEY

I am also a decades long fan of The Shed. I find that I get the best chile flavor from dried green chilies from The Chile Shop on Water St in Santa Fe. I always have the dried chilies and their super-flavorful Dixon chile powder in my freezer. They ship just about anywhere.


17 days ago sfmiller

I've gotta try this--papas con rajas in semiliquid form.


17 days ago 10 Legs in the Kitchen

This looks like a fine transition meal for fall. I can imagine eating it out by the fire pit at the end of a warm September day, as the night air turns chilly the soup warms our souls.


17 days ago btglenn

I first ate this savory soup 30 years ago at the The Shed in Santa Fe. They also made it with the addition of lamb. Anxious to be able to make it at home, along with the many other great regional dishes I ate, I found recipes for them in a far-ranging, beautifully writtten cookbook: "The Feast of Santa Fe: Cooking of the American Southwest" first published in 1985. Huntley Dent, the author, in his endeavor to present the foods of Santa Fe based on their complex heritage and merging of both Indian and Spanish styles of cookery, consulted "a wealth of materials -- fiesta programs, out-of print cookbooks, Southwest novels, and memoirs -- which filled in a picture of cooking that most Americans do not realize is in their midst."
For those who enjoy Madison's version of "Potato and Green Chile Stew" and would like others in the same theme, read this book. My only caveat is that when written (1985) chiles were not generally available in US markets so canned versions are sometimes listed as part of the ingredients.


17 days ago Rebecca

I also chop fresh tomatillos (use as you would tomatoes) and sauté with the onion till soft, adding garlic and spices a few seconds before the liquid. Add pork and hominy to make posole. I like this version because it's a quick pantry meal.


18 days ago CheaterBBQ

It's peak season for Hatch, NM, chile, which is spectacular in a soup/stew. Swap the potatoes for posole and you've got a southwest favorite. Meats and meat broths are optional, of course. Here's a direct route to a great posole chile soup:


18 days ago M.B.

Okay fall, I'm ready for you now. Let's do this.


18 days ago Key

Deborah Madison is a potato savant. I have been making her potato with kale soup recipe from the Greens Cookbook for half my life. And I'm old.


6 days ago Robert Lopez

Key - where can I find this potato kale soup recipe you talk about? Love greens and try to cook with them daily.


18 days ago roxann dorweiler

We lived in Navajo land for several years-Window Rock area-and ate delicious mutton stew made in this manner, but making the broth first, with mutton which was simmered for quite a long time and NEVER allowed to boil, which toughened the meat. Posole (drie limed corn kernels) were added also.