Like most folks, we’re struggling a bit financially right now. But we also want to eat well, with some comforting winter food to tide us over the dark months. Stoups – thick, hearty one-dish meals that fall somewhere between a stew and soup – are among my favorite winter concoctions. They’re delicious, comforting, and fill the house with wonderful aromas while they cook. They also play well with improvisation. This time, I improvised a smokey, somewhat spicy, chipotle chicken and wild rice soup.
I took advantage of relatively inexpensive, yet flavorful, ingredients, all of which we had on hand. The only “oddball” is part of a can of chipotles en adobo. Chipotles are dried, smoked, ripe jalapenos. Adobo sauce is a rich, extremely flavorful, smoky, somewhat sweet, spicy staple Mexican sauce made with ground ancho (dried poblano) and guajilo peppers. You can find cans of Chipotles en Adobo in the ethnic foods aisle of even the tiniest groceries. They’re an inexpensive and simple way to add a lot of complex flavor to a dish in a short time.
I have made my own before, and it’s better. But it’s been years. And you need to either freeze it, or use a pressure canner. And, it’s OK to be pragmatic in our work to eat locally and seasonally. Celebrating the special ingredients, with a few hits of shelf-stable stuff is a good balance. I had most of a can of chipotles en adobo left over from making Spicy Smokey Spatchcock Chicken earlier in the week, and needed to use it soon anyway.
Chipotle Chicken and Wild Rice Stoup
"Stoup" is what I call a thick, hearty soup that makes for a satisfying meal all on its own. Basically soup that is as thick and satisfying as a stew. This chipotle chicken and wild rice stoup uses inexpensive ingredients, mostly pantry staples and ones available locally nearly year 'round. It's a great winter pick me up!
Skin and bone the chicken thighs. Save the bones in your chicken stock stuff bag in the freezer for chicken stock making day. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper, set aside at room temperature for 15 minutes (just about the time needed to clean the counter and your hands from handling raw chicken, and to prep the other ingredients)
Coat the bottom of a dutch oven with oil, and heat over high heat.
Carefully lay the chicken thighs in the hot oil, and sear until a nice crust forms, likely about 2-5 minutes per side.
Move the chicken thighs to one side of the pot, and add the onions and cellery. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until they just begin the change color.
Add the garlic, and saute until it releases its aroma - only about 30 seconds!
Add the wild rice, chipotles, and adobo sauce, and stir to coat the rice and chicken with the sauce.
Deglaze the pan with a cup or two of the chicken stock. Then, reserving two cups for later adjustments, add the remaining stock. Bring to a boil, then cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer.
Simmer, stirring once or twice, until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the wild rice is tender. How long will depend on your wild rice blend. Mine took bout an hour. You may need to add some of your reserved stock near the end of the cooking time as the rice absorbs the stock. I ended up using all of it. If you run out of stock and the pot is getting dry, go ahead and add a bit of water.
Shred the chicken - at this point it will be so tender a spoon will suffice. Stir in the scallions, and simmer another 10 minutes.