Recipe: Mexican Molé Soup with Beef & Rice
I own over 30 cookbooks, yet I admit that I seldom crack them open — except for this one: “What’s Cooking: SOUPS” by Carole Clements.
It’s the variety of recipes that hooked me, along with some real standouts like the Molé Soup that follows below (note: Molé, not mole as in the furry animal — that’s in a different cookbook).
I generally do my own thing in the kitchen, but when you do that, you are limited by your own experience. In other words, even if you have a pretty wide repertoire of tastes and cuisines, it is unlikely that you will be able to whip up a Senegalese dish, while at the same time having a reference point for British-style dishes and Asian and Mediterranean AND North African.
The timing was perfect to receive this book as a gift: my friend Mike knew that I was preparing weekly soups for The Village Scoop here in Hillsdale, along with several private customers. I had wanted to go as many weeks as possible without repeating any soup, and it was starting to become a challenge.
Browsing through the cookbook, one recipe jumped out at me right away: “Mexican-style Beef & Rice Soup” (p. 110). Despite not being a fan of things that are hyphen-style, this one grabbed me because of the diverse ingredients — beef, wine, chocolate, garlic. I couldn’t wait to see how it all came together… but I also knew that I still wanted to put my own “touch” on it. So the recipe below is 95% credited to Ms. Clements with a few italicized annotations by yours truly.
Let’s dig in!
Ingredients: (for 6 servings)
3 T olive oil
1 lb boneless stewing beef, cut into 1″ pieces (original recipe called for 18 oz)
1/2 c red wine
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small red chili or a medium jalapeno, finely chopped (de-seed if you want to reduce the heat)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1/4 t ground coriander
1/4 t ground cumin
1/4 t ground cinnamon (original recipe called for 1/8)
1/2 t dried oregano (original recipe called for 1/4)
1 bay leaf
grated rind of 1/2 orange (try to use fresh orange but if you don’t have it available, you can use 2T dried orange peel)
1 t Cocoa Joe spice blend (an addition to the original recipe)
14 oz can of chopped tomatoes (or use whole peeled tomatoes and chop them up in the can before adding them)
5 c beef stock
1/2 c brown rice (original recipe called for 1/4 long grain white rice)
3 T raisins
Handful plain semisweet chocolate (original recipe called for exactly 1/2 oz, and asked that you melt it first)
chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
1. Heat half the oil in a large frying pan over a medium high heat. Add the meat in one layer and cook until well browned, turning to color all sides. Remove the pan the pan from the heat and pour in the wine.
2. Heat the remaining oil a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, cover and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally until just softened. Add the green bell pepper, chili, garlic, and carrot, and continue cooking, covered, for 3 minutes.
3. Add the coriander, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, bay leaf, orange rind and Cocoa Joe spice blend. Stir in the tomatoes and stock, along with the beef and wine (and the scrapings from the pan — the tasty brown bits). Bring almost to a boil and when the mixture begins to bubble, reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour until the meat is tender.
4. Stir in the rice and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. Add in the raisins and the chocolate, and cook until the rice is tender. (Original recipe added the raisins sooner — I felt that it made them too mushy)
5. Ladle into warm bowls and garnish with cilantro.