White Chili

Use any white bean, dried or canned. You can make it with turkey or chicken. For more heat, add the jalapeno.

Makes 6 to 8 servings. Recipe is by Judy Walker.

1 tablespoon oil

1 onion, chopped

1 rib celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno, seeded, minced (optional)

3 roasted, seeded green chiles, chopped, OR 4-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained

2 teaspoons powdered cumin

2 teaspoons white pepper

2 teaspoons oregano

¼ teaspoon cayenne

¼ teaspoon powdered cloves

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced, OR 3 cups diced cooked chicken or turkey

6 cups chicken broth or stock

1 pound Great Northern beans or other dry white beans, soaked overnight, drained, OR 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) cannellini or other white beans, drained

Garnishes: shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, diced avocado, diced tomato, lime wedges, sour cream, salsa, tortilla chips

1. In a 6-quart Dutch oven or large pot, heat oil and saute onion. After a minute or so, add celery, garlic, jalapeno (if using), green chiles and spices and herbs.

2. If using fresh chicken, add it to the mixture now. Cook until the mixture is fragrant and the chicken is just opaque. Add broth and beans.

3. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer 2 hours if using soaked beans, or 20 minutes if using canned beans. If using cooked chicken or turkey, add it when the heat is reduced. At the end of the cooking time, taste for seasoning.

4. Serve hot with garnishes.

Slow cooker variation: Saute vegetables, seasonings and chicken in a skillet. Transfer to a slow cooker; add 4 cups broth and beans. Cook on low 6 to 8 hours.


Margie’s Oyster Soup

My fondness for oyster soup was nourished during my landlocked childhood when my mother would cook canned oysters with whole milk, butter and lots of black pepper — a simple dish her father loved as well. Fresh oyster soup made with the oyster liquor is incomparable. You can tell this is an old recipe because it calls for a celery heart, the pale central leafy center of a bunch, filled with flavor.

Makes 10 servings. Recipe is by Marie Margarite Huet Rizzuto.

4 dozen freshly shucked salty oysters, with their liquor

½ cup butter

2 bunches green onions, chopped (white and green parts)

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 celery heart, chopped

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 cup heavy cream

½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped

Salt, white pepper and cayenne, to taste

1. Poach oysters gently in their own broth for 5-10 minutes, until they are plumped. Drain, reserving liquor.

2. Add enough water to make 2 quarts (8 cups).

3. Heat butter in a large soup pot and saute green onions, yellow onion, garlic and celery until tender. Stir in the flour to make a smooth paste. Slowly whisk in oyster liquor and water mixture, and cream. Heat until just barely boiling.

4. Stir in parsley and poached oysters, and season to taste with salt, white pepper and cayenne. Serve immediately.


Oven Beef Stew

Tapioca, when used as a thickener, gives the stew a glossy sheen.

Makes 6 to 8 servings. Recipe is by Judy Walker.

2 pounds beef stew meat, cubed in bite-size pieces

3 large celery ribs, chopped

5 carrots, chopped

2 parsnips, chopped

2 Yukon Gold medium potatoes, diced

2 medium onions, quartered

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca, such as Minute brand

1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes, diced with liquid, OR ¾ cup chopped tomatoes and juice

½ cup dry red wine

2 bay leaves

1 package commercial beef stew seasoning mix, OR combine 1½ teaspoons paprika, 1½ teaspoons garlic powder, ½ teaspoon leafy or powdered oregano and ½ teaspoon dried thyme or savory

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large Dutch oven or 3- to 4-quart ovenproof casserole dish, mix beef, celery, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and onions. Season with salt and pepper.

2. In a medium bowl, combine tapioca, tomatoes, red wine, bay leaves and seasoning mix. Use your hands to mix well. The mixture will look dry but will make liquid as it cooks. Pour over beef mixture.

3. Cover the dish and bake for 20 minutes. Lower heat to 250 F and cook 4 hours without opening the oven. Remove bay leaves before serving.