Yesterday, between rain drops I ran outside and cut some flowers from the yard. I love spring flowers. I love the fragrances and when they are in a vase I can even love violets (the rest of the time I am thinking of them as weeds). I was hoping the weather forecast was wrong and today would be a warm sunny day but no such luck. Who knew it could be this cold in May? It’s 46 degrees F and raining and really the temperature would be OK if only it would stop raining. I guess I shouldn’t be complaining. I’m not a farmer who can’t plant his crops because of flooded fields and I’m not living along a swelling river about to lose my home from flood waters. It’s just a little too much rain for me, that’s all. I’d like to plant the window boxes on the second floor but I’m not inclined to hang my head out the window in the rain. So the plants are lined up and waiting for the rain to stop.
Because it’s a bit too cold and damp, I decided to make something to warm up my insides. This has a nice amount of heat to it, not too much and not too little. If it’s hotter than you like, add a bit more sour cream as a garnish at the end and mix it in to cut the heat. This is a really delicious low fat chili with an unusual flavor that is very enjoyable.
The ancho chilies aren’t as hard to find as they used to be. They are available at Hispanic markets and often supermarkets have a nice assortment of dried peppers in the fresh produce department.
5 dried ancho chilies, about 2 ½ to 3 ounces
5 whole sun dried tomatoes, about 2 ounces
7 cups chicken broth, divided
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
28 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
28 oz. can diced tomatoes, including juice
12 oz. can chicken breast packed in water, drained
1 bell pepper, diced (I used a yellow pepper, that’s what I had on hand)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, or more to taste
1 avocado peeled and cut into to wedges to garnish
¼ cup low fat sour cream, divided equally between 4 to garnish
Remove stems and seeds from ancho chilies, I find the easiest way to do this is to give a tug on the stem; this pulls the stem a bit away from the pepper and then cut the stem off with kitchen scissors. Once the stem is removed, shake the pepper to remove the seeds. If a few seeds are left behind it won’t be a disaster but the seeds carry a lot of heat, if you don’t like your chili too hot, make sure to remove most of the seeds. I then cut the chilies with scissors into ½ or 1 inch pieces. Cut the sun dried tomatoes into about the same size pieces. Add 3 cups of chicken broth, ancho chilies and sun dried tomatoes to stock pot. Bring to boil, simmer for 5 minutes and remove from heat and add mixture to heat proof mixing bowl or measuring cup, set aside.
Add olive oil, garlic and onion to stock pot, sauté until onion is soft. Add remaining chicken broth, beans, canned tomatoes, chicken, cumin, oregano; simmer for 10 minutes. Using a hand held blender (stick blender) or traditional blender; puree ancho chili mixture until smooth. Add ancho chili mixture and cilantro to stock pot and continue to simmer another 10 to 15 minutes.
Garnish each bowl with wedges of avocado and a dollop of sour cream.