Lucy’s Picadillo Soup

OK, I confess I have help in my home with all the house work and especially before a party.  A wonderful women originally from El Salvador and her younger sister are my sous chefs and clean up crew.  Lucy has worked with me for more than fifteen years and her sister Letti started about five years ago. Lucy knows where everything is stored in my house better then I do.  Both sisters are skilled with knives and they can even form decent borekas, since I taught them.  The day of our party or holiday prep work we have a good time in the kitchen trading stories and teaching each other cooking techniques.  I promise you all that I will learn how to make that famous El Salvadorian dish, Pupusas (zucchini and cheese filled tortilla pockets) and post the recipe in the upcoming months.  My son Jacob requests them frequently, since he developed a taste for them on his last surfing adventure to El Salvador. 

About 10 years ago, I called Lucy from the road one afternoon and asked if she could make something for dinner as I was coming home late.  She made this wonderful spicy soup, which is actually Mexican in origin, and rice.  It has been a staple in our house ever since.  If spicy is not your taste, leave out most of the chipotles to cool the soup a little.  Made from everyday ingredients that one might have on hand, it is easy to prepare.  I always keep a few small cans of Embasa Chipotles in Adobo in my pantry.  

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large onion

2 pounds ground chuck meat

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1 pound haricorverteFrench Beans by The Boreka Diary.

2 large baking potatoes

3 large carrots

5 chipotles in Adobo sauce

1 16 ounce can of chopped or diced tomatoes

2 quarts of cold water

Chopped cilantro for garnish 

Dice the onion and preheat a large Dutch oven.  Add the oil and the onion and sauté on medium until the onions are translucent.  Turn up the heat, push the onions to the side of the pan with a wooden spoon or paddle and then add the beef.  Sauté the beef until it cooks through, breaking it up with two wooden spoons as you stir.  Season the beef with salt and pepper. 

Trim the ends of the haricorverte and peel and dice the potatoes and carrots.  Cut the haricorverte into ½ inch pieces.  Add all the diced vegetables to the sautéed meat and onions.  Stir and sauté for a few minutes on medium heat, season with more salt and pepper and taste, then add the tomatoes and chipotles along with a spoonful of the Adobo sauce.  The rest of the Chipotles keep for a week in the refrigerator for another use.  (Turkey Chili, Tamarind Chipotle Sauce, Chipotle Mayo etc.) 

Next, add two quarts of cold water to the soup.  Cover the soup and bring up to a boil, then leave the lid ajar and simmer on low heat for an hour or more.  The soup should reduce and thicken a little bit.  I fish the 5 chipotles out, after ½ hour in the soup, and toss them.  Chipotles impart a rich thick smoky heat to the dish but if I leave them in for more then ½ hour, the dish gets a little to hot for me. 

Serve this dish with Spanish rice (see the recipe in a previous post) and perhaps some corn tortillas, guacamole, and pico de gallo.  Enjoy.

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