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.
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
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.
The Genius Recipes cookbook is here! (Well, almost.) The book is a mix of greatest hits from the column and unpublished new favorites -- all told, over 100 recipes that will change the way you think about cooking. It'll be on shelves in April, but you can pre-order your copy now.
Photos by Alpha Smoot