At left, is a photo of dried New Mexico Chiles. These are an important ingredient in Spelt Chowder, the recipe for which is below. What is spelt? It is a grain that is related to wheat but has a higher protein content. You can buy spelt at BloomingFoods in the bulk section if you live here in town. I haven't looked for it at the supermarket so I don't know if you will find it there. It is worth the search, though. It is nutty tasting and chewy in the most delightful way.
Uncooked, spelt looks like sunflower seeds. Indeed, my husband, who snacks on sunflower seeds, saw the unmarked bag of spelt sitting on the counter, opened it, grabbed a handful of the kernels and threw them into his mouth. A brief moment later, he realized his mistake. Funny but not pretty.
Anyway, this chowder is REALLY delicious and healthy, too. It has a little heat to it from the chile peppers, which give it a southwestern flair. It is easy to make as well. You should MAKE THIS SOUP TODAY. The recipe is from the wonderful Hay Day Market Country Cookbook by Kim Rizk.
1/4 cup olive oil (you can use less if you like)
1 large onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 pound ripe plum tomatoes (or two cups of good quality canned tomatoes)
1 large russet or Idaho potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 dried medium hot red chile peppers broken in half, seeds shaken out and discarded(I used medium hot New Mexico chiles. You could use Pasilla if you want. These are available in most grocery stores now-a-days)
6 cups vegetable stock (I use low sodium)
2 tsp. kosher salt (optional)
1 cup spelt kernels, rinsed and drained
2 cups corn kernels (frozen are OK...just thaw first)
Salt & pepper to taste
1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until nicely colored and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and saute until softened and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the potato, chiles, stock and salt (if using) and allow to come to a boil.
2. Stir in the spelt and reduce the heat to a simmer. Partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spelt is tender, about 30 - 45 minutes. Remove and discard the chile pieces, and stir in the corn. Continue to simmer just until the corn is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes more.
Serve hot and swoon!