Tag Archives: ethnic recipes

Chicken Soup with Chipotle in Adobo

My good friend German knows what he likes when it comes to food. It’s all about local sourcing from his region of Jalisco. Yet “local sourcing” in German’s context (and among many people) means the flavors he grew up on – the gastronomic legacy of rural Mexican families.

chilies at Mercado de San Juan, Mexico City

Chipotles in adobo are smoked and dried jalapeños rehydrated in an equally intriguing purée of tomato, vinegar, garlic and spices. The ingredients point to a combination that would seem to ignite your mouth. But its heat is on par with Tabasco Sauce.

Chipotles in adobo

The smoking of jalapeños dates back deep within Mesoamerican cultures. Smoking is an age-old method of preserving foods and imparts unique flavor notes depending on the type of wood and the process used. In Mexican tradition red jalapeño peppers are dried and smoked for days over pecan wood.

Adobo sauce is a delight in its own with its origin in 16th century Spain. Ingredients include brown sugar, vinegar, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, chili powder and (from the New World) tomatoes. It’s a classic fusion with Silk Road/Mediterranean/New World roots.

Chipotles in adobo

Chipotles in adobo are embedded within Mexican cuisine. It transcends regionalism.  And its flavor makes every dish its own.

In this quick and easy chicken soup the addition of crema (*see Notes*) sour cream and/or cream cheese creates the smooth texture and just enough fat needed to coat your palate with the rich, warm flavors of the chipotles in adobo.

Chicken Soup with Chipotle in Adobo

(4 servings, recipe by German Israel Curial Ayon)


  • 2 tomatoes, quartered
  • 16 oz. (500 grams) Crema or sour cream *
  • 2 teaspoons chicken stock powder (s/a Knoor brand)*
  • 1 cup water*
  • 4 whole chipotle peppers in adobo sauce*
  • 1 small red onion sliced (divide in half)
first 6 ingredients in blender
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts (approx. 1+ lb./500 + grams)
  • 3 medium sized white potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • Garnish: 2 avocados sliced and sliced or grated manchego or other mild cheese


  • Measure and cut/slice all ingredients.
  • In a blender puree the tomatoes, crema (or sour cream with or without cream cheese) chicken stock powder, water, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and ½ sliced red onion.
  • Melt the butter in a deep heavy pan over medium high heat and sauté the remaining red onion for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add the cubed chicken and sauté for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add the diced potatoes and stir until combined.
  • Add the puree and seasonings. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and cover. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer for at least 30 to 45 minutes, and the potatoes are tender.
  • Ladle into bowls and top with cheese and slices of avocado.


(1) Crema is slightly thinner and less tart than sour cream. You can also use 12 oz/375 grams Crema or sour cream and 4 oz/125 grams cream cheese that’ll create a richer smooth texture.

(2) You can substitute 1 cup prepared chicken stock for the chicken stock powder and water.

(3) you cannot substitute anything for the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce regardless what the internet says. It is the dominant flavor and simply will not be the same soup. You can find them canned in most better grocery stores and Latino food shops.

Mercado de San Juan, Mexico City

Novelist Pat Conroy wrote, “A recipe is a story that ends in a good meal.” German’s Chicken Soup with Chipotle in Adobo is a story you will savor.

lush countryside of Jalisco State, Mexico

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Cajun Maque Choux with Pork Chops

Cajun Maque Choux with Pork Chops
Cajun Maque Choux with Pork Chops

IMG_3261Cajun dishes rank among the most misunderstood regional cuisines in the United States. That’s not surprising since it is part of the melange of cultural influences that make up southern Louisiana – French, Spanish, Native American, African, Caribbean and Central America. Often confused with its spicier neighbor, Creole, true Cajun dishes share similarities but are less complex. IMG_3264Today’s Louisiana Cajuns are descendants of the survivors of the Grand Derangement – the British ethnic cleansing of Acadia, French Canada’s Maritime provinces, in the 1760s which resulted in the death of half the Acadian population. Given refuge by Spanish controlled Louisiana, they settled in undesirable disease ridden bayous and marshes. Liz Williams, Director of the New Orleans Southern Food and Beverage Museum stated, “It is very peasant food; a one pot food…it’s more the practices, the mindset rather than the ingredients” that determined Cajun recipes.

1/2" thick boneless pork chops
1/2″ thick boneless pork chops

Acclaimed New Orleans Chef Frank Brightsen commented, “The roots of Acadian culture are living off the land and that means hunting. The heart of Cajun culture around Lafayette is not coastal. Even in grocery stores you’ll find butchers. The pig is central to Cajun culture…”

pork chops with Cajun seasoning
pork chops with Cajun seasoning

diced salt pork
diced salt pork

Simple Acadian dishes such as salt cod cakes became impossible in the absence of potatoes and salt preserved fish. Rice became the starch and the abundance of fresh fish, game, alligator and seafood the additions. Rice, shrimp, and peppers replaced potatoes, cod and cabbage, but a basic Cajun meal is still one dish or simply prepared.

minced parsley
minced parsley

What else constitutes Cajun cuisine – and traditional Acadian fare? Anything deep fat fried – alligator and crawfish (not in Acadia) fish fillets, potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, pork chops, rabbit, game, chicken, and shrimp. Crabs, shrimp and crawfish come steamed as well. Lots of carbohydrates accompany a Cajun meal – and an Acadian meal – with rice, potatoes and corn not uncommon on the same plate along with okra and beans.

blanch a tomato in boiling water
blanch a tomato in boiling water

The greatest difference separating Cajun and Acadian cooking is spices. Acadian rarely goes beyond salt and pepper although they do use pickled combinations such as chow chow to enliven a meal. Cajun uses spices borrowed from Creole cuisine – a different fusion altogether. Of course world famous Tabasco sauce made for the past century and a half on Avery Island has become a Cajun standard even though its origin is clearly West Indian.

skin easily peels away from blanched tomato
skin easily peels away from blanched tomato

Maque Choux is a classic Cajun side-dish that has elements of both Acadian and Cajun dishes. Most of the ingredients are Native North American – corn and peppers – with pork introduced by European colonists. If you visit Louisiana’s Cajun country you will experience variations including some that add sugar – a later 19th century addition.

diced peeled tomato
diced peeled tomato

Cajun seasoning mix
Cajun seasoning mix

There are many variations on “Cajun seasoning.” It’s basically a mixture of salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic, onion and assorted spices. The “assorted spices” are best determined by an internet search. Especially important if you have a salt preference, packaged mixes have varying degrees of salt – both Cajun and Creole cooking love salt – but I prefer less  (more for taste and thirst than health reasons).

Maque Choux
Maque Choux

Cajun Maque Choux with Pork Chops Ingredients – 2 servings (simply multiply all ingredients for more servings)

for the pork:

  • 4 – 1/2 inch boneless pork chops
  • low-salt Cajun seasoning

for the Maque Choux

  • 1/4 cup small dice salt pork
  • 1-1/2 cup diced sweet onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/3 cup diced bell pepper – green, yellow or red
  • 1 cup diced, peeled fresh tomato
  • 1/8 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 2 cups corn kernels – cut from the cob or frozen
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons low-salt Cajun seasoning
  • hot sauce to taste (optional)


  1. Rub the pork chops with a thin layer of cajun seasoning and refrigerate while preparing the Maque Choux.
  2. To prepare the peeled tomato: bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Drop a large tomato into the boiling water for 30 seconds (small tomato) to 60 seconds (large tomato as pictured.) Remove the tomato to a cutting board. With a sharp knife make a thin cut around the tomato. The skin will easily slip off with your fingers or the blunt side of a dinner knife.
  3. In a heavy frying pan – preferably cast iron – sauté the salt pork until crispy and all the fat has been rendered. Remove the salt pork with a slotted spoon and discard.
  4. Add the onion and sauté for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the celery and sauté for an additional 2 minutes
  6. Add the peppers, tomato, parsley, corn and Cajun seasoning. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. In an oven proof baking dish spoon some of the Maque Choux to make a bed the size of a pork chop and place the chop to cover half. Overlap the corn and pork for the remaining chops.
  9. Cover with foil and bake for 90 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes.

Serve with rice, a green salad, cold beer or a nice red wine.

salt pork in cast iron pan
salt pork in cast iron pan

saute salt pork
saute salt pork

rendered fat (right) with crisp salt pork (left – discard)
rendered fat (right) with crisp salt pork (left – discard)

saute onions & celery
saute onions & celery

add peppers, tomatoes, parsley
add peppers, tomatoes, parsley, corn & seasoning

arrange in baking dish overlapping pork and Maque Choux, cover with foil and bake according to directions
arrange in baking dish overlapping pork and Maque Choux, cover with foil and bake according to directions

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