Rainy day Cazuela

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Here in Toronto the weather is rainy and chilly…perfect day for a warm bowl of soup. My favourite dish for a day like this comes from Chile and it’s a traditional soup called Cazuela.

Cazuela is a very simple soup, but when made right, is the most comforting thing that can come out of a bowl (or mug, however you’d like to eat it). Most often it contains meat (beef, chicken or seafood) potatoes, squash, corn, and something green such as green beans or spinach. Some like it with rice in it, some do not.

My most successful cazuelas are always made with a delicious, homemade, flavourful stock. You can make this soup without stock and use water instead, but you will get the most flavour by using a stock. Trust me!

I try to roast a whole chicken once a week. It’s easy, cost efficient and provides me with the right amount of bones to make stock! After eating all of the meat from the chicken, toss the bones in a bag and pop them in your freezer until you’re ready to make your stock.

Here is the recipe from my Basic Chicken Stock:

What you’ll need….

Bones of 1 medium chicken

Stalks of one bunch of organic cilantro (you know the ends that you cut off and would normally throw away? Ya those, wash them and save them!)

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon of chilli flakes

1 teaspoon of sea salt

Filtered water-enough to fill up your pot.

How to do it…

Place all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower temperature to low and cover with lid. Let simmer for at least 1 hour. The longer you let it cook the more flavour and more beneficial collagen you’ll get from the bones.

Once finished cooking, strain, and save liquid in glass jars.

You can freeze the stock if you know you won’t use right away. Just make sure to leave enough room in the jar for the liquid to expand.

Now that you’ve prepared your stock, you can make the cazuela!

Here is my take on Cazuela de Vacuno

What you’ll need….

2-3 beef shanks

2 large yukon gold potatoes diced into large pieces (leave skin on)

1 small butternut squash peeled and diced into large pieces

2 carrots diced into large pieces

2-3 celery stalks diced into large pieces

2 corn on the cob cut into large disks (if you are using frozen corn, use about 1 cup)

1 big handful of spinach, roughly chopped

1/2 onion, sliced

3 cloves of garlic diced

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Around 3 litres of stock (or water)

A bit of butter or splash of oil

Fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

How to do it…..

First season your beef with salt and pepper. Make sure to get both sides.

Place your large pot over medium heat, once heated, place your butter or oil in pan along with your onions and sauté until onions are clear.

Next place your beef in the pot and cook for around 3 minutes on each side. At this time you can throw in your garlic and oregano.

Once your meat is seared, put your stock into the pot and bring to a boil. Once water has come to a boil, place the lid on and lower the temperature to it’s lowest setting and allow to cook for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. This time may vary so just keep an eye on the beef. When they start to feel tender (use a fork to test) it’s time for the next step.

Now it’s time to add your potatoes, squash, carrots and celery. Let those cook for around 5-7 minutes.

Next add the corn and cook for another 5 minutes.

Once all of the vegetables are soft enough to pierce with a fork (but not so soft that they are falling apart on their own) turn off heat.

At this point throw in the spinach, the heat of the soup will quickly cook the spinach.

Serve immediately and garnish with fresh cilantro!