How many times will my patient readers allow me to make a comeback? Your reception of this recipe will be my answer to comeback number two.
I have not, as you might be thinking, been lolling on a Mexican beach instead of tending my blog. Since you last heard from me, we bought a new home and moved.
Last November we packed up our belongings in a home we had lived in for sixteen years (one can sure accumulate a lot of material goods in one small house in sixteen years!) and moved in early December to a home in the mountains in the state of Jalisco. While only a three-hour journey by road, it is a world away, exchanging sand and palm trees for mountain vistas with pine and oak. From sea level on the Bay of Banderas to 4,600 feet elevation in the Sierra Madre Mountains, with a lake view thrown in for good measure.
The excessive and increasing summer heat on the coast, plus the growing bustle of our once quiet little beach town, were the motivation to find a more peaceful setting. The environs of Mascota, long a favorite for weekend getaways, is our new locale, and we love it.
Shortly after our move, my sweet father passed on at the age of 95, and I went back to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to spend several weeks with my mother and help her adjust to life without my dad.
After returning, unpacking, sorting, sewing new curtains, and taking time to honor my father with loving memories, it is finally time to return to writing about what’s happening in my cocina.
An unseasonal cold front moved in last night — maybe a last hurrah from El Niño — bringing rain and chilly winds. They say be careful what you wish for, and I had wished for soup weather many times during our sticky years on the coast. Thank goodness I still have a wool shirt and a down vest from our New Mexico life. I’m wearing both right now, something I never thought would happen in Mexico.
Not exactly a traditional Mexican recipe, but a comforting bowl from my Mexican kitchen, here is a white bean and celery soup inspired by a large bag of organic, but stringy, celery that has been in the fridge long enough to apply for residente permanente. The tough celery strings dissolved in the simmering pot, leaving behind a smooth and flavorful soup that is one to make again. Roasted poblano chile gives this soup its Mexican credentials.
Poblano chile is a great addition to many dishes, but I find myself sometimes skipping the poblanos because I don’t want to stop in the middle of preparations to roast chiles. Lately I have started roasting a dozen chiles at a time on the gas grill outside and popping them into the freezer when cool, a few to a freezer bag. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to peel the skins, which slip off easily after thawing, scrape out the seeds, and chop or slice for the preparation in progress.
Croutons are made by toasting slices of sturdy, homemade whole wheat bread, which are then drizzled with olive oil and cubed. The reflection in the toaster gives this loaf away as made in a bread machine. See the telltale hole left by the kneading blade? The bread machine is a savior when good whole wheat bread can’t be had for love or money in any of the local stores.
“Chicken” flavored vegetarian boullion cubes, brought home from my summer trip to the U.S., round out the flavor. The custom officials at the Puerto Vallarta airport must wonder at, and be amused by, the culinary contents of my suitcase.
White Bean and Celery Soup
makes 3 servings
- 1/2 large onion, chopped
- 8 stalks celery, thinly slice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling on finished soup
- 2 cups water and 1 chicken or vegetarian boullion cube
OR 2 cups vegetarian or chicken broth
- 2 cups cooked white beans
- 1 large poblano chile, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Whole wheat croutons
- Parmesan cheese, grated
- In a heavy bottomed pot, sautée onion and celery in olive oil over medium heat until onion is translucent, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add garlic and cook 30 seconds more, stirring.
- Add water and boullion cube (or broth) and beans. Bring to a simmer and cook 20 minutes.
- Mash some of the beans with a fork to thicken the soup slightly. Stir in chopped poblano chile. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Ladle into bowls and garnish with croutons, grated parmesan cheese, and drizzle with olive oil.
I love readers’ comments, and I always reply, but I should let it be known that our new home comes with one drawback — no Internet connection. This means I will go into our nearest town, Mascota, to publish this recipe, and will not be able to reply to comments until my next town visit. Life is more peaceful — and productive — without hours wasted on Facebook, but we hope to be connected later this year. Or so we are told in the land of mañana. If you are inclined leave a comment, you will hear back from me eventually. Maybe today, maybe … mañana.