Improv Challenge: Tomatoes and Peppers

I’m excited to be participating in another Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker (my fourth month participating)! Each month I strive to come up with something a bit more exciting or creative than the last.

So far, I’ve shared:

This month, the challenge ingredients are tomatoes and peppers.

This month is the first time that I’m not sharing the dish I had initially made for the challenge. Over the weekend, I made a curry-like dish with chicken, peppers, and tomatoes. It was good, but tasted a bit more like Mexican food than Indian food. I was a bit disappointed by this because it didn’t pair very well with naan bread. Also, it was wayyyy too spicy for me! I ate half a bowl. Even Bryan mentioned that it was spicy (his tolerance level is much higher than mine). He was able to finish, but was surprised I made it as far through the meal as I did. Because I was unsatisfied with the results, I haven’t have much inspiration to write about the experience, nor did I want to share the recipe as part of the Improv Challenge (I may share it in a week or so).

Instead, I made a last minute trip to the grocery store on Tuesday while running other errands to pick up more peppers and tomatoes so I could try again. Earlier in the day, I had been reading a blog post series on Chiles at MJ’s Kitchen. The posts were very informative, explaining that “the green chile pepper [is] called by many names – New Mexico chile, Anaheim pepper, California chile, Hatch, Big Jim, Rio Grande and Sandia – to name a few” (MJ’s Kitchen). I’d never heard it called California pepper, Big Jim, Rio Grande or Sandia! I was even a bit skeptical that an Anaheim pepper would be the same, though I’ve heard the peppers called by that name before.

Reminiscing about the amazing food in the Southwest US. I wanted green chiles afterwards, but that’s not something that’s regularly sold around here. In fact, the only Hatch Chiles I’ve seen are dried red chiles sold at specialty stores with a fairly high price tag. It’s always good, but not quite the same as green chiles.

Very much to my surprise, there was a large basket of “Anaheim Peppers” at the grocery store this week. I had to have them. The price was also surprisingly reasonable. Here’s hoping that they will start to carry these chile peppers regularly!

I’ve never really cooked with green chiles. My experience with them has mostly been meals someone else has cooked or take-out. So, for this Improv Challenge, I’m sharing one of Bryan’s recipes that I’ve adapted. This is one of the few things he would cook for me when we first met!

Green Chile Pepper and Tomato Soup

Adapted from Bryan’s recipe (I think he said he learned this from his family?)

Ingredients

  • 500 grams lean (or extra lean) ground beef – approximate cost $5.50
  • 10 fresh green chile peppers (New Mexico chile, Anaheim pepper, California chile, Hatch chile, Big Jim chile, Rio Grandechile or Sandia chile) – approximate cost $3.50
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 can diced tomatoes – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 cup water

Method

  1. Roast the chile peppers, making sure all sides are roasted (so the skins will peel away easily later).
  2. Set the roasted chile peppers in the fridge to cool.
  3. Remove the cooled chile peppers from the fridge.
  4. Roll each of the chile peppers to loosen the seeds.
  5. Cut off the tops of the chile peppers.
  6. Pour out as many seeds as possible.
    1. If you want the soup spicy, reserve a few of the seeds.
    2. If you want the soup mild, gently wash the inside of the peppers with cold water to remove the remaining seeds.
  7. Wash your hands very well with lots of soap and avoid rubbing your eyes for a while to ensure the chile peppers will not burn you.
  8. Peel the roasted skin away from the chile pepper.
  9. Discard the skin.
  10. Dice the chile peppers.
  11. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot.
  12. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  13. Add the ground beef.
  14. Break the beef into pieces using a wooden spoon.
  15. Brown the beef (there shouldn’t be any more pink).
  16. Add the chile peppers.
  17. Mix well.
  18. Add the diced tomatoes (as well as the liquid from the can).
  19. Mix well.
  20. Add half cup water (the beef mixture should be just covered by the liquid.
  21. Bring to a boil.
  22. Add the sea salt.
  23. Taste the broth and add more salt if necessary.
  24. Remove from heat.
  25. Serve hot in soup bowls.

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $2.65 per serving).



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