Julie Smart Koob isn’t the only one cooking more often these days, and if you want to know what she’s eating on a regular basis, she’s happy to share. In fact, when COVID-19 began keeping everyone home, she threw proper spelling to the wind in favor of alliteration so she could share her “CitchenCoronaChronicles” on Facebook with anyone who needed some inspiration in the kitchen.
I’m glad she did, because she had a recipe for green chile enchilada soup — otherwise known as Meal 10 in her chronicles — that called to me the instant I saw it.
I can overlook misspelled words when there’s food involved.
This week we’re sharing another round of reader-submitted recipes, because our community is a giving one.
In case you missed it, last week we featured chicken spaghetti, a recipe that makes enough to feed a small army; flavorful black bean burgers; and a potato soup that my daughter declared the best soup she’s ever had.
This week’s batch of recipes is just as good and just as varied. There’s Koob’s enchilada soup, filled with spices, chicken and rice, plus an easy pork chop and cabbage recipe and pasta with a “sauce” made from chickpeas.
First up, the soup. Koob mentioned her chronicles when she wrote to me, which immediately sent me to Facebook to see what she was cooking. The enchilada soup caught my eye because it’s a slow cooker recipe. If you think slow cookers are only handy during cold weather months, you’re missing out. I use mine year-round for roasts, soups, barbecued chicken and more.
In fact, it’s especially useful now that I’m working from home. No matter how many times I walk through my kitchen on a daily basis now — a lot, it seems — thoughts about dinner still don’t really take shape until late in the afternoon, when the workday is over. I’m sure many of you can relate. Anything that saves time is much appreciated.
The enchilada sauce and the green chiles add some heat, but that’s cut by the smooth cream cheese. You can always crank up the spice by adding jalapeños to the soup or as garnish. In my house, thick soups are preferred over thin, brothy ones, so I added the optional cornstarch to the slow cooker before everything was done. Topped with a mountain of Monterey Jack cheese, lots of cilantro and crushed tortilla chips, this one is a true winner.
Glenwood Burley’s recipe for pork chops and cabbage included a “jigger” of this and a “pop” of that — and those are the sorts of unfussy recipes I love.
His “Burley Hollow Dinner” uses inexpensive pork chops and even more inexpensive cabbage along with a few staples, such as oil, butter and sugar, and canned cream sauce.
I think cabbage is one of the most underrated vegetables out there. I happened to have red cabbage, so rather than make an unnecessary trip to the grocery store, it’s what I used. Cabbage and onions cook quickly, and in this recipe, once they’re done, they get transferred to another vessel, and then the pork chops and more onions go into the same skillet.
Burley recommended a cast-iron skillet — which I also love and agree with — but a regular skillet is fine. He didn’t specify what sort of chops, so I went with boneless because they’re the leanest. The “pop” he mentioned comes from white wine, but chicken broth could be subbed. I don’t think canned cream sauce is needed — call me a cabbage purist — but it does add a sauce-y element to the dish.
Betsy Tompkins completely undersold the Chickpea Pasta Sauce she sent me. She mentioned that it doesn’t have a lot of “eye appeal,” and that when she made it recently, her husband took one look at her ingredients and was skeptical the meal would turn out anything but boring.
To that, I’d say this: I would gladly eat ugly food every day of the week if this is what ugly food tastes like.
She’s right, in part. The ingredients are mostly pantry staples, such as chickpeas, olive oil and butter, tomato paste and herbs. Seemingly not a lot of wow factor there. Put them all together, however, and somewhere, angels starting singing the moment I took a bite.
Tompkins offered some advice along with the recipe: “ ‘Don’t be afraid to try something that seems a little funky — this is a good example of that spirit,’ ” she wrote to me, adding that when her husband tasted the final product, he said, “I cannot believe how this came together.”
I used linguine, and I’m glad I did because the sauce clung perfectly to those thick strands. My only gripe was that I didn’t make enough sauce. Next time I’ll double the recipe if I’m feeding my family, but as is, the amount will feed two sauce-happy people nicely.
Each of these comfort meals tastes great and, just as important, they’re easy on the wallet — jiggers, pops and all.