Friday, February 21, 2014

Adobe Stew

My friend, Imelda, and I used to meet at a quirky little restaurant called The Gypsy Den in Costa Mesa. Located in a far-out kinda strip mall called "The Lab", it was the half-way point between our two jobs, and a great place for lunch.

The decor is definitely eclectic. Zagat's calls it "early attic". The staff is heavily pierced and tattooed, and the menu mostly vegetarian. Offerings include salads, wraps and sandwiches, chilis and stews, even breakfast and desserts.

The Gypsy Den
Since we liked sitting on the patio, sometimes it was a little cooler there, so I would find myself ordering something called Adobe Stew. Simple, straight-forward, vegetarian, warm and filling.

Over time, I tried to identify just exactly what was in it. It was easy to spot the vegetables - they were listed on the menu and floating around in the broth. But what about the spices? They don't usually list those. You have to figure those out for yourself. 

So I did. At least, I think I did. Tastes pretty darn close to me.

I've been making this soup for years and I hardly ever change it much. Except last weekend I added 1/2 chopped jalapeno, because, as you know, I've been liking things a little hotter than usual lately.

So, here it is. 

Adobe Stew

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp each coriander and chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1-2 handfuls of frozen green beans
2 medium fresh zucchini (1 green, 1 yellow would be nice)
1 can (28 oz) stewed tomatoes, with juice
1/2 bag frozen roasted corn
1/2 chopped jalapeno (optional)
vegetable broth, enough to cover your vegetables
1 can pinto beans
salt and pepper
grated jack cheese 

Makes: a lot. You might want to cut the ingredient quantities in 1/2 to start.

Begin by heating the oil in a wide soup pot. When warm, add the onion and cook until transluscent (5-8 minutes). Add garlic and spices, stirring constantly to avoid them burning. But get the spices good and fragrant.

Next add the vegetables, and saute until everything comes back up to temperature (the frozen veggies are going to cool everything down). Once it's back to a boil, turn down heat and cover. Simmer 25-30 minutes. Add pinto beans, salt and pepper and give it a good stir.

Ladle stew into a bowl and top with grated cheese.

If you're ever in Orange County and need a place to eat, try out one of the 3 Gypsy Den's: Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, and Anaheim.

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