How-To & Diy

Deborah Madison's Potato and Green Chile Stew

September  3, 2014

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.

Shop the Story

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

Listen Now

Join The Sandwich Universe co-hosts (and longtime BFFs) Molly Baz and Declan Bond as they dive deep into beloved, iconic sandwiches.

Listen Now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Kari L. Jaquith
    Kari L. Jaquith
  • Joe Clement
    Joe Clement
  • Melissa
  • Katy
  • Allison
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Kari L. December 14, 2015
We love this recipe. So perfect for rainy, cold weather.
Joe C. September 28, 2015
Poblano stew, not green chile stew. Yankees............
Dr.Insomnia February 23, 2016
HaHaHa. As the significant other of a New Mexican, I know where this comes from. But her invective was "gringos."
Melissa September 10, 2015
So weird that I just made this, ate it (we always love it) and saw it on my newsfeed.
Just about the easiest, cheapest and most anticipated soup of the fall.
Katy September 9, 2015
How do you roast the chiles?
bmallorca September 10, 2015
Here's how I do it: I put them on the open flame on my stove and turn them with metal tongs until they are charred all over. It's fun; you get to play with fire : ) Then drop them into a plastic bag, twist the top to close and let them steam. After they've cooled enough to touch, rub the skins off and proceed. You could also put them in a bowl and cover with a plate if you aren't into plastic bags. It's the steaming that gets the skins to come off easily.
Allison July 11, 2015
Have you tried to freeze and re-heat this? It looks wonderful. I am looking for vegetarian options to pack for a 21 day raft trip...
Clover88 January 5, 2015
So easy, so flavorful. A keeper!
[email protected] November 2, 2014
I just made this and it was delightful. I added water for liquid, and even so, it was plenty flavorful. Sour cream on top is a must for me. Easy and delicious!
Gigi September 23, 2014
I have made this twice already and everyone has absolutely loved it. It will be a staple in my repertoire of recipes for the cooler temps for sure!! I added bacon as a condiment and it was good....thinking of using some Mexican chorizo for a topping next time! And, BTW, in response to bmallorca...yes, the flavors meld.
Kari L. September 23, 2014
Making this tonight and serving it up with some homemade cornbread...Soup season has just begun in Portland, OR...happy about that.
Rebecca September 16, 2014
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.
bmallorca September 15, 2014
Do the flavors meld even better if you make it the night before? Or do things just get soggy?
Gigi September 15, 2014
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
bmallorca September 15, 2014
Thank you Rebecca! Maybe tonight...!
bmallorca September 23, 2014
This was a delicious success! I added the tomatillos, some green and cherry tomatoes too, (yet another) zucchini, and it was great. Perhaps some shredded kale would be a good addition next time, which will be soon, as potatoes and poblanos keep arriving in my farm box!
bmallorca September 15, 2014
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!
Rebecca September 15, 2014
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.
Monica September 23, 2014
just saw your question. my husband roasts them on the grill on a non stick grill pan then puts them in the blender before adding them to the chilies which he also roasts on the grill over mesquite or other aromatic wood. gives the stew a very smoky flavor.
Monica B. January 19, 2022
I used to make this with the tomatillos in my farm box--along with sweet potatoes. Just chopped them up and tossed them in. Delicious tang.
jim September 10, 2014
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.
Monica September 8, 2014
Hello, is there a reason you seem to prefer water to broth or stock? thanks
Kristen M. September 9, 2014
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.
Monica September 9, 2014
Thanks! Seems like a lot of people are starting to stray a bit from broth or stock so was just curious.
liamoran September 6, 2014
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.
Johanna September 6, 2014
I also start w ground beef and garlic sauteed, then do the rest.
TERRYE H. September 3, 2014
OOOps! almost forgot, The Shed doesn't use the sour cream garnish but serves it with garlic toast. Dang, now I'm hungry.
TERRYE H. September 3, 2014
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.