- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Like a good wine, soup mellows over time. Taste a hot-from-the-stove-top soup, and you can probably distinguish each seasoning. The vegetables, though tender, haven’t melded into the mix, but wait a day and you have a different dish.

Vegetables soak up the liquid and develop a richer flavor. The harsh edges of spices and herbs have cooked away.

Soups that include a starch thickener, such as flour, cornstarch or even mashed potatoes, take on a different character on the second day. The body is transformed from anemic to robust as the starch thoroughly dissolves in the broth.

When people refer to a stick-to-the-ribs soup, they’re describing a chunky, hearty soup that’s had a chance to age.

Tempting though it is, the following soup should not be eaten the day it’s made. To avoid the lure, make this delicious chicken, hominy and chili combination after dinner, then refrigerate it overnight.

If you heat the soup without any alterations, you’ll get “stoup,” a cross between soup and stew. If you prefer a more liquid base, add a little chicken broth as you’re warming the dish.

Chicken and hominy ‘stoup’

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons flour

Salt and pepper

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in bite-size pieces

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 poblano chili, cored, seeded and diced

2 medium tomatillos, husked, cored and diced

1 cup canned hominy

1 cup baby spinach leaves

1 to 2 cups chicken broth, divided

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon crushed dried oregano

1 tablespoon lime juice

Heat oil in a Dutch oven. Add onion and garlic; saute over high heat for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Combine flour and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Add chicken pieces, and toss to coat. Add chicken to Dutch oven; brown on all sides. Stir in cayenne pepper, chili, tomatillos, hominy and baby spinach. Cook and stir constantly for 1 minute.

Stir any leftover seasoned flour into 1/4 cup chicken broth to form a paste. Add cumin and oregano. Add 11/4 cups broth. Stir seasoned broth into Dutch oven, scraping up any browned bits.

Bring mixture to a simmer. Cover and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and tomatillos are tender. Stir in lime juice and simmer 1 minute. If desired, thin the dish with remaining broth to desired consistency. Makes 2 servings.

Roasted beet and blood orange salad

2 medium-size beets, scrubbed

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 blood orange, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

1 packed cup baby arugula

1 packed cup baby spinach

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (see note)

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pepper

Place beets in small roasting pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast in preheated 400-degree oven for 45 minutes or until fork tender. Remove. Cool to room temperature, then peel and cut into bite-size pieces. Place beets in salad bowl. Add orange, arugula and spinach. Combine remaining 1 tablespoons olive oil in a cup with vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Pour over salad. Toss gently but well. Makes 2 servings.

Note: Select an aged balsamic vinegar that’s on the syrupy and sweet side.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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