Chipotle chili peppers are items that are a complete must for your pantry, if you’re going to cook Mexican food. In fact, they’re a unique flavor to add to just about any meat, if you are adventurous. Growing up in Laredo Texas, chipotles were peppers we occasionally used to make a salsa, but I knew these were not well known outside of the Spanish speaking community, for the most part. The word chipotle has become well known because of the restaurant chain by the same name, and even if you don’t know how to pronounce it (chee-poh-tleh) chances are, you’ve eaten there and at least know it has to do with Mexican food.
Chipotle is a nahuatl word, meaning smoked chili pepper. No one knows for how long the indigenous peoples of Mexico have used the technique of dry smoking a pepper both to preserve it and for the flavor. But the flavor the chipotle imparts to a dish is like no other spice: it is the essence of the earth and of fire encapsuled in these dried, wrinkled pods, coming to life in the warm moisture of another substance. This lentil soup has the signature flavor of chipotle. I made it with dried pods, reconstituted in the soup, although you can also use chipotle from the can.
Lentil soup is eaten often during this period of Lent and was introduced to me by the Godinez family in San Miguel de Allende.
- 3 cups dry lentils, rinsed
- 2 or 3 dry chipotles washed
- 1 tsp cumin powder (or grind your own)
- 1 poblano pepper, seared over a gas flame on your stove, peeled, seeded, and cut into strips 1 inch strips
- 3 roma tomatoes cut into small cubes
- 1 large yellow onion, minced
- 1 tsp oregano
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- cilantro for garnish in each bowl
- ¼ cup olive oil, or more if necessary
- salt to taste
- Sear, peel, seed, and cut the poblano into strips and set aside.
- Place the poblano, tomato, onion, garlic, oregano, and cumin in a large pot to cook slowly in the olive oil, about 15 minutes.
- Add about 5 cups of water and the lentils to the pot.
- When it comes to a boil lower the heat and add the chipotle peppers and cover partially.
- It should cook for about ½ hour or until all the flavors come together.
- You can take 2 cups of the soup out with the lentils, place in the blender to cool for a moment, then blend, and replace into the soup, for added thickness to the soup, if you prefer.
- Also, you can take the pepper out and chop them up to replace in the soup, if you want a spicier taste.
- Serve with a cilantro garnish.