My father’s parents were both born in Mexico in the state of Guanajuato, where much of the best farmland in Mexico is located. It’s no wonder they chose Santa Barbara, California when they immigrated to the U.S. The weather in Santa Barbara is ideal for gardening and growing fruit trees like citrus, avocados, figs, and even bananas. When I was a child we picked our own almonds, walnuts, and olives. I loved going out to the garden and gathering fresh tomatoes and sweet bell peppers and eating them on the spot. We grew the best hot chili peppers, sweet onions and fresh herbs, as well as other wonderful seasonal fruits and veggies. I’m so grateful that I came from a family that appreciated the gifts of the garden – we never wasted food and (as my staff and students will attest) I make the most of our beautiful organic produce and what can not be used to prepare food, made into crackers or juice, is composted.
Having grown up with Mexican cuisine, I have an affinity for it, but based on years of creating foods with a high degree of general public appeal, I believe it is also one of the most favored cuisines in the world. Mexican cuisine blends spices and herbs beautifully using contrasting flavors and textures that are both stimulating and harmonious.
Here is a great example of a spicy Mexican style soup that reminds me of my childhood. I first prepared it for the 2011 Living LIght Hot Chefs Cool Kitchen Raw Chef Showcase and it was a HUGE hit! I served it slightly warm, but it can be enjoyed either warmed in a deydrator or chiled. I sometimes garnish it with coconut yogurt, so I included that recipe for you, too.
The video showing step by step how to make both my Red Bell Pepper Chipotle Soup and Jalapeño Onion Corn Bread, as well as all the other great videos from the Chef Showcase, are available at http://hotchefscoolkitchen.com/
Creamy Red Bell Pepper Chipotle Soup with Coconut Yogurt
Yield: 8 cups (6-8 servings)
- 1 cup cashews, soaked for 1-2 hours
- 4 cups water (plus one additional cup, if needed)
- 2 cups red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
- 1 smoked chipotle pepper, soaked for 1 hour
- 1 tablespoon light miso
- 1 ½ teaspoons Himalayan crystal salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon white pepper
- 1 cup tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- Optional garnishes, as pictured:
- ½ cup Coconut Yogurt (see recipe, below)
- bell pepper confetti
- thin strips of young coconut
- chili oil
1. In a high performance blender, combine soaked cashews with 2 cups of the water and blend until creamy.
2. Add chopped bell peppers, soaked chipotle pepper, light miso, salt, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, regular and smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and white pepper and blend thoroughly.
3. Add the peeled, seeded tomatoes, and 2 more cups of the remaining water and blend again.
4. Add additional water, if needed, to achieve the desired consistency -- it should be creamy, like sour cream, but not overly thick.
5. Adjust salt, if needed. Serve will a dollop of Coconut Yogurt (see recipe, below) and Jalapeño Onion Corn Bread (see myJalapeño Onion Corn Bread Blog, posted March 30).
- 2 cups young (immature) coconut meat
- 1 cup of water
- ¼ teaspoon probiotic powder
1. Blend the coconut meat, water and probiotic in a high-powered blender, adding more water if necessary to achieve a smooth, creamy texture.
2. Select a pint-size (or larger) glass jar and place it in a warm (not hot) location to ferment for 8 to 12 hours. (Less fermentation time is required in warmer weather).
3. After the yogurt has fermented to suit your taste, it may be stored in a sealed glass container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.