This is a great soup to get you in the mood for late-summer and early-fall. It is rich, hearty, and full of flavor. The key is finding your favorite spice blend to create a signature flavor. I tend to habitually reach for the sweet and spicy Jamaican Jerk blend. But Alchemy Spice, a local spice and herb blender in Chattanooga, has an inspiring selection of blends. What's best, is the fantastic flavor of freshly milled spices, as opposed to the bland old ones found in a grocery store. You can find Alchemy Spice online, at the Chattanooga Market, and in local specialty food shops. Ingredients: 3 Sweet peppers (any color), seeded and coarsely chopped 3 Medium tomatoes, cut into wedges 1 Yellow onion, coarsely chopped 6-8 cloves of garlic, minced 1 qt chicken or vegetable stock 3 cups beans (black, white or red beans, cooked and drained, or fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces) 1 lb boneless chicken, or leftovers from a roasted hen 1 Tbs your favorite Alchemy Spice blend (like The Jerk, Neo Masala, or Bayou Ya-Ya Cajun blends) Juice from one lime or lemon 1 Bunch cilantro, chopped (optional) Canola or olive oil Sea salt Black pepper
Method: Place the chopped peppers, tomatoes, and onions in a baking dish. Coat with some oil, then season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake at 375 degrees for at least one hour, or until the vegetables are black on the tips and have begun to caramelize. While the vegetables are cooking, season the chicken with the spices and brown in a heavy-bottomed stock pot with a little oil. If you are using meat from a whole hen, rub the hen with the spices before roasting. Chop the cooked chicken, and set aside. Place the roasted peppers, onions and tomatoes in the stock pot with the chicken or vegetable stock. Pulse with an immersion blender until coarsely pureed, or pulse in a conventional blender and return to the stock pot. Add the beans, chicken, lime or lemon juice, and cilantro. Simmer for a few minutes (or until the beans are cooked if using fresh green beans). Serve with freshly baked corn bread.