Chili Verde Salsa and Chili Verde Soup
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Today I’d like to share with you an easy and wonderful recipe for Chili Verde Salsa. This freezes really well and, come Fall, I have usually filled up about 25 jelly jars with salsa. I can grab a couple and whip up soup in minutes.
I love growing tomatillos. I am constantly amazed that 3 tiny little seeds, started in the Spring, will yield hundreds of tomatillos. If you ever want to try growing them, I do have one word of warning: make sure you have savory tomatillos and NOT groundcherries. They are closely related but their flavors are completely different. Groundcherries are very small and very, very sweet. They may be great for some things, but Chili Verde Salsa is not one of them.
I recommend Seed Savers “Green Husk” seeds. I’ve always had amazing luck with them. Unlike tomatoes, they have no real diseases that I’ve heard of (at least not in my garden) and don’t attract any pests, either. Can’t beat that. 3 tomatillo plants will give you all the salsa you need to last you til next Summer, depending on how much you use.
If you do buy heirloom seeds (such as Green Husk), you can save the seeds easily and dry them to use the following year. Or give some away to friends. I just cut into a ripe, raw tomatillo or two, hold them over a bowl, and spread the seeds out in a single layer. From there they go into my dehydrator, but if you don’t have one, they’ll dry on the kitchen counter. It will just take them longer. Be sure if you dry them they are really, really dry before putting them in a sandwich bag for the Winter. Otherwise, you’ll end up with damp, moldy and useless seeds next Spring. How to tell if they’re ripe? When they’ve almost filled up their cute little papery husk.
In addition to soup, you can throw a jar into a chili verde enchilada recipe. And, of course, you can use it to top tacos, enchiladas, and eggs, as well as for a great dip for tortilla chips.
The original recipe comes from Tyler Florence at Food Network. I tweaked it ever so slightly by adding some mild green chilies, either canned or fresh poblanos from the garden. He named it “Tomatillo Salsa Verde.” This is my version:
For removing the skins and stems from the tomatillos, I fill up the sink and let them all soak in cold water. This loosens the papery husks these babies come wrapped in and also removes their inherent stickiness. Then I yank the husk off and try to remove the stem. If it won’t budge, or you have arthritis, like me, just grab some needle nosed pliers (every kitchen should have them!) and remove the stems that way. (Needle nosed pliers are also good for opening those zipped packages lots of things come in, like shredded cheese.
CHILI VERDE SALSA
1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 small Spanish onion, quartered
1 jalapeno, stemmed (or canned (not pickled!) chopped jalapenos – to taste)
1 4 oz. can chopped Mild Green Chilies, drained
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp kosher salt
½ bunch fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped (I use even more)
1 lime, juiced (optional – I omit, altogether)
Bring a pot of water to boil and add the tomatillos and onions. If you are using fresh jalapenos, chilies and/or garlic, add those to the boiling water, too. If using garlic from a jar, or jalapenos and green chilies from a can, hold off on those for now.
Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the tomatillos are soft but not split. When soft, save about ¼ cup of the hot water, drain and add the veggie mixture (not the water yet) to a blender or food processor.
If using canned or jarred jalapenos, chilies and garlic, add now to the tomatillos. Whir away.
Let it cool a couple of minutes, so the mixture won’t cook the cilantro. After it’s cooled a bit, add the cilantro, and 1 tsp salt. Now get out a small spoon (or better yet, a tortilla chip) and taste. Does it need the lime juice? Add a bit in (remember, you can always add more but you can’t subtract!)
What about salt? More garlic or cilantro? Up to you. It really does take several tastings with the chips to get it perfect. I find it’s a perfectly good excuse to eat chips in the middle of the day.
Finally, is the salsa too thick? Add in a bit of the reserved water, and taste as you go, until you hit the consistency you prefer.
That’s it. Easy as pie. When the salsa has cooled, go ahead and pour into jelly jars, leaving ½ inch of space at the top, screw on the metal lid and band (label with a sharpie first!) It can resemble pesto in the freezer and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself in March scratching your head, trying to figure out just which it is. Also, mark the year while you’re at it. Or just eat it all from the fridge. It does last a week or two.
If you want to roast whatever fresh ingredients you use, rather than simmering them, just get out a big baking sheet with a rim. The tomatillos do exude a lot of liquid, so don’t do this with a rimless cookie sheet! Heat the oven to about 450° and roast all of the veggies til softened and slightly blackened. How black you want the skins is entirely up to you, of course. I do like the smokiness this version gives you, but if you’re in a rush, go for the water method.
Tip du Jour: If you roast the veggies and you’re left with a blackened mess on your baking sheet, try this. Put the cookie sheet in your sink, if it fits, and cover with hot water. Grab a box of dishwasher detergent and sprinkle over the water. My sink is double, so my cookie sheet doesn’t fit completely in it. I just put the pan on the counter, carefully fill with enough hot water to cover the bottom, then add the detergent. Let it sit for an hour or so, and you’ll find that blackened mess comes off lickety-split. It doesn’t seem to matter how inexpensive the detergent is, either. It always works like a charm for me.
Whenever I have any baking pan that is a huge, baked on mess (think lasagna), I use this hot water/dishwasher detergent mixture and let it sit overnight. The next morning, you can literally wipe the thing completely clean with a sponge. Yep, it’s like witnessing a little miracle, right there in my kitchen.
This is the recipe for a tasty soup that will last months in your freezer. Make double and freeze half and you’ll thank yourself some tired night in December! As with most of my recipes, it’s all to personal taste, so feel free to alter the amounts.
CHILI VERDE SOUP
2 Jelly Jars of Salsa Chili Verde
1 4 oz. can chopped mild green chilies
4 to 6 c. chicken broth
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 c. raw long grain rice (brown works, too)
salt and pepper
Juice of one lime
You could also add canned or frozen corn and canned black beans, drained and rinsed. If you do, you may need to up your amount of chicken broth so the soup doesn’t turn into a stew.
Mexican shredded cheese (or queso fresca)
Avocado slices or chunks
Chop onion and throw in a large stock pot or dutch oven with a healthy sprinkling of kosher salt. Cover bottom of pot with oil and slowly cook, stirring, until the onions and soft.
In a separate, smaller pot, blanch 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or tenders) til tender (don’t overcook or the chicken will taste like an army boot). If the chicken is still slightly underdone, that’s even better – it will continue to cook in a minute. Drain the chicken and rinse off, then shred or cut into cubes. You could also use a rotisserie chicken, skinned and shredded.
To the onions in the larger dutch oven, add the salsa, chilies, chicken broth, cayenne, cumin, black pepper, rice and lime juice. Bring to the boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes, to let the flavors mingle and cook the rice. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add your favorite toppings and enjoy!
Another tip du jour for you! I have the niftiest trick for quickly shredding your poached chicken. Grab your handy Kitchenaid mixer and throw the chicken into the bowl. Add the panel and, on low, let it work its magic. Keep it on low and watch carefully. You don’t want the chicken shredded to Kingdom Come. Let the shredded chunks be generous enough that you aren’t eating a bunch of garden twine! You’ll have another bowl to throw into the dishwasher, but it’ll save you several minutes.
http://amzn.to/2xFk7wZ This is a link for a kitchenaid mixer. They don’t come cheap, but not a day goes by that I don’t use mine. It is always on my counter because it’s just too darned heavy to store and take out. I’ve found that most heavy appliances I put in the cupboard never see the light of day. Try it, you’ll like it!
If you have enough to freeze, try this: Pour into a good quality freezer bag. Place flat on a cookie sheet THAT IS LINED WITH PARCHMENT OR A SILICONE MAT. I used to put it straight onto the cookie sheet and then stick it in the freezer. Well, God help me if I could pry it loose, once it was frozen. Problem solved. The next day, when the bag is as stiff as a flat brick, you could store it however you like in the freezer, either upright in a plastic square container, or lying flat, stacked on other frozen bags. That reminds me, I need to really get in there and organize my freezer for the winter. Another handy idea is to keep a running inventory of what’s in there, so if you’re looking for a quick dinner to reheat, you can consult your list. Just keep it handy and update when you take or add an item.
I hope your family likes this soup! Cheers, Vicky