runner’s green chili

On an afternoon last month that could have frozen a habanero, I sipped coffee with an old friend. She’s a loving mother, and one of the most compassionate people I know. She’s one of those friends who makes you miss have friends close by who know you like that. One of those friends whose hunger for your company makes you feel like the most interesting person in the world.

It was almost January. The promise of a new year had filled us with hope. Gingerly, she placed her own goal onto the pile: she was going to start running. I was instructed not to tell the world; she wanted to do this in small, private steps, until she’d proven to herself that she could.

green chili chicken soup

The other day we spoke again, this time over the phone. It had been a month, and unlike so many other hopeful new runners, she’d stuck with it. She’d joined a new runner’s group, and day after frigid -30 day, melted those snowy roads with perseverance.

poblano pepper


We caught up. We talked about things friends talk about: love, mornings, naps, looking ahead and looking back. Oh yes, and running. I did my best to respond to her questions. Good shoes are indispensable. Everything’s better in the spring. Pain is normal, but also a red flag. You’re in control of your form, your stride, your attitude. Make sure to get enough protein.

I told her I would dedicate my next recipe to that last one, and here it is.

green chili

From a cookbook I picked up the other day (when I was supposed to be buying a textbook), this soup is the perfect chili-soup hybrid. It roils with the taste of crushed coriander and cumin seeds, punctuating this grey season with its four-fold green. Whether you choose the original or a vegetarian modification, this soup delivers protein in at least two delicious forms: with quinoa, beans, and chicken (if you choose) you athletes out there really can’t go wrong.

When friends are too far to measure out afternoons in coffee spoons, soup spoons are a worthy substitute.

Southwestern Green Chili

makes 12 cups

2 T peanut oil, or other cooking oil
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
2 jalepeno peppers, seeded and diced (wear gloves!)
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 poblano chile peppers, seeded and chopped
Optional: 4 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs (combination), cut into small pieces, or leftover roasted chicken
2 T chile powder
2 tsp ground cumin seeds
2 tsp ground coriander seeds
8 cups mild chicken or vegetable broth (I like Swanson’s brand, or homemade)
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried oregano (Mexican if you can find it, I couldn’t)
2 tsp salt
28 0z can Roma tomatoes, diced (if you wanted it to be true green chili, you could use tomatillos here)
1/3 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups lima beans (frozen, canned, or dried and pre-cooked)
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat and add the onion and diced jalepeno peppers. Cook for about 4 minutes, until beginning to get tender. Add the celery, bell peppers, and poblano chiles. Sweat for a minute or two more.
  2. Simply omit this step for a vegetarian/vegan version: Add the chicken pieces and cook until they have begun to brown on all sides. (The chicken will finish cooking in the broth.) You could also just throw leftover roasted chicken in after all is said and done.
  3. Add all the spices (chili powder, cumin, coriander, bay leaves, oregano, and salt) and stir to coat the vegetables and chicken. Cook for 2 minutes more.
  4. Add the broth and tomatoes, adding a little of the juice from the can. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the quinoa and simmer for 10 minutes, until tender.
  6. Stir in the lima beans and corn and simmer for 2 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh garlic.

Serve with chopped cilantro, and tortilla chips on the side — if your run was worthy.

from The Daily Soup Cookbook

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