I mentioned in my last post that I fell in love with Vienna. The building that really got me was not the famed opera house or St. Stephens’ Cathedral, the gothic heart of the city. Instead it was Karlskirche, an early 18th century cathedral of fascinating design that Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, built for his namesake patron saint, Charles Borromeo, in gratitude for the end of the plague. The design is a combination of East and West influences with gorgeous bas-relief on the columns.
I lit candles at all of the cathedrals I visited, a habit I got into when visiting France in high school for my (Catholic paternal) grandma. There is something about those old world Catholic cathedrals that has always reminded me of her. I found the inside of this cathedral particularly beautiful–I sat in it for quite a while. My only complaint is that they have built intrusive scaffolding in the middle of the church so that you can visit the top and look out over Vienna–which is pointless, especially in light of St. Stephans Cathedral’s superior view that is accessible from a non-intrusive elevator to an outdoor platform. But by sitting in just the right spot I could pretend the scaffolding wasn’t there.
As happy as I was in Vienna, I am a homebody at heart. My roots are in my kitchen, my backyard, my own comfy, large bed.
Everybody has some form of cooking they get homesick for when they are gone too long from home. Something that, no matter how good the food is where they are, they start dreaming about. For me, it is Southwestern and Mexican flavors in one pot meals. Cheese, sour cream, dried chile peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes…. When we were at the beach after returning from Europe we ate taco salads night after night and I have been having them here at home too. Today we ran out of lettuce so I turned them into nachos for our lunch. And last night I made calabacitas, to take advantage of the fabulous corn, zucchini and tomato crop that August brings in the midwest.
I have made a calabacitas type soup before on this blog, but that meal was vegetarian, much soupier, and much fattier (i.e., more cheese). And it was a while ago. So I figured it is a good time for a repeat of sorts. This soup could easily be made vegetarian with the addition of beans, but expect to add a bit more cheese to replace some of the lost umami flavor. As with most of my dishes, this will feed an army. We love the leftovers.
- 3 T olive oil, or to taste
- 2 pork tenderloins, trimmed of silver skin and rubbed with salt and pepper
- 2 T good quality sherry vinegar
- 3 medium onions, chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 small roasted chile peppers, minced (If I had had poblanos, I would have used 1-2 poblanos)
- 4 t ancho chile powder
- 2 t ground cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 t or more chipotle chile powder
- 3 small-medium zucchini, chopped
- corn from 4 cops of corn, or frozen corn off-season
- 2 small-medium yellow summer squash, chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes, roasted and peeled
- 1 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped, with juices
- approx. 1-2 cups chicken stock, to desired soupiness
- 2-4 T heavy cream, to taste
- 2 oz cream cheese, to taste
- 2 oz muenster cheese, to taste
- 1/2 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro
- juice of 1 lime plus more to serve with
- shredded cheese for garnish
- sour cream for garnish
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. When it is shimmering, add the pork tenderloins and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.
Add the chopped onions to the pan with the sherry vinegar to deglaze the pan. Scrape up all the browned bits and then sprinkle with some salt. Stirring occasionally, let cook for 8-10 minutes, until the onions are starting to turn golden. Add the garlic and chile pepper and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the spices and stir thoroughly--let cook for 1-2 more minutes.
Add the zucchini and summer squash and stir thoroughly. Sprinkle with salt. Let cook for 5 minutes, then add the corn and the fresh and roasted tomatoes. Stir and add the chicken stock until you reach your desired consistency (I wanted mine to be more vegetable-heavy and less of a true soup, so I did not add much). Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 10 minutes.
When the pork has cooled, slice it into thick rounds (it should be raw in the middle). After the soup has been simmering for 10 minutes, add the pork into the calabacitas and return the lid. Simmer until the pork is cooked through (for me about 10-12 minutes), but not dried out.
Turn off the heat and add the cream and cheeses to the pot. Stir them in and give them a moment to melt into the calabacitas. Add the cilantro and lime juice and stir. Serve garnished with shredded cheese (we used a 4 cheese Mexican blend), sour cream and/or lime wedges. We also sprinkled additional chipotle on the adults' portions to ramp up the heat.