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These recipes will satisfy regardless of the weather

| Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

I'm not going to waste any time pontificating on how cold it's been.

In fact, for much of the past week or so it was unseasonably warm.

Nonetheless, we'll get right into a few ideas to warm the tummy and the toes.

Our first recipe really isn't a soup, though its name is literally “Dry Soup.”

It's actually a pilaf-style pasta that's browned in vegetable oil and then cooked similar to rice in stock or broth.

When finished, a dusting of some shredded Parmesan and a dollop of salsa will give you a first course, a great luncheon with some crusty rolls, or side dish for dinner.

Sopa Seca(Dry Soup)

(serves four)

1 large tomato

1 large jalapeno chili pepper

1 small onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 large clove garlic

6 sprigs fresh cilantro

1/4cup vegetable oil

7-ounce package small shaped pasta such as alphabet

2 cups chicken stock

shredded Parmesan for garnish

Pico de gallo salsa for garnish

Heat a heavy, ungreased griddle or cast iron skillet over medium-low heat until a drop of water sizzles on contact.

Place the tomato and the jalapeno in the pan and cook, turning frequently, until the skins of both are blackened and blistered all over — about 15 minutes

Remove the tomato to a bowl to reserve the juices. Place the chili in a small plastic or paper bag and let it rest for 10 minutes.

When it's cool enough to handle, peel off the charred skin. If some tiny amounts of black bits remain, that's fine, they'll just add to the flavor. Remove the seeds from both.

Place the tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro and jalapeno in a blender or food processor and process until it is almost smooth.

Place the oil in a Dutch oven or medium saucepan, heat over medium-high heat and when warmed, add the pasta and cook, stirring constantly, until golden.Remove all but two tablespoons of the oil.

Add the pureed tomato mixture and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cover the Dutch oven and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Serve in bowls with the shredded Parmesan and a dollop of salsa.

Here's a hearty favorite that will always be welcome on a chilly day.

Accompany this hearty southern favorite with some cooked rice.

Chicken Gumbo

(serves four to six)

A 4-pound stewing chicken

1 tablespoon salt

2 quarts water

1/2pound cooked ham, diced

1 cup celery, diced

1 tablespoon bacon fat or butter

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1/2teaspoon thyme

3 cups sliced okra, blanched in boiling water if using fresh or, use frozen

2 tablespoons filépowder

5 cups cooked rice, hot

Cut up the stewing chicken and boil in salted water until tender, about two hours.

Remove the chicken, strain it and reserve the broth.

Cut the chicken into large bite-sized pieces. In a medium skillet, sauté the ham and celery in the bacon fat or butter and then add the bay leaf, parsley and thyme.

Cook for several minutes, then add to the chicken broth along with the okra.

You will need about 6 cups of broth. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the chicken and reheat.

Just before serving, add the filé powder.

Place spoonfuls of rice in the serving bowls and ladle the soup over top.

As always, enjoy!

David Kelly has worked as a chef for more than 40 years. He has shared his recipes, tips and experiences in Culinary Corner for 21 years.

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