Well, we're here to state the obvious: Vegan, vegetarian or meaty green chile stew is the answer for handling or preventing that fated winter cold, possibly more so than you might have thought.
I know I personally have a bunch of green chile nutritional conjecture taking up space in my brain. Namely, I've heard that it has more vitamin C than citrus fruit and that it's good for your immune system. And lucky for us New Mexicans, all that local trivia is true. One pepper has 170 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C. It also contains 80 percent of the RDA for vitamin A, which is essential for your immune system and organs—especially those lined with mucus, like your lungs, intestines and urinary tract. With whopping doses of this phlegm-fighter, chiles clear congestion, aid in digestion (unless, of course, you eat way too many) and prevent infection. But there's more. Peppers in general can kill bacteria in your stomach, preventing ulcers. They can make you feel high because they release endorphins in your brain and, some say, help you lose weight by increasing your metabolism. (Although exercising and not eating lard can also help you lose weight.) Additionally, as we speak, capsaicin, the alkaloid in peppers that makes them hot, is being studied as a pain reliever, topically and internally.
Easy and versatile, this green chile stew recipe lends itself to winging it. I like to make it with John Cage in mind; the outcome is the result of a chance operation and a piece of art unto itself. I never measure anything when I make it, and am constantly using new ingredients and spices. Now, you do have to use a few basic ingredients so it doesn't taste gross or weird, but as long as you follow this recipe at least roughly, you will have a delicious stew to eat. Even those who think they can't cook can accomplish this.
1-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 carrots, chopped*
1-2 stalks celery, chopped*
1 apple or pear, chopped*
1 cup frozen corn*
1 13-ounce frozen container of chopped green chile, or one bag fresh-roasted, peeled
6 cups water
2 bouillon cubes (I use vegetable)
approximately 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar*
10 small potatoes or 6 large, chopped (use different kinds for more color; also, more potatoes make the stew thicker, less makes it soupier)
1 large can of diced or crushed tomatoes (depending on desired tomato consistency) or 6 tomatoes, chopped
1 to 2 cans black or pinto beans*
pinch of sage, cumin, marjoram, thyme, etc.*
salt and pepper to taste
1) Heat butter or oil in large soup pot, add garlic and onion. Sauté for a few minutes, then add carrots and celery. Continue to sauté until slightly tender. Add apple or pear, corn and green chile, and sauté for a few more minutes.
2) Add water, bouillon and vinegar. Make sure bouillon is fully dissolved and add potatoes. Depending on your time frame, you can either cook on a low simmer or boil. I recommend a high simmer. Cover if you want a thin stew, cook uncovered for a thicker stew.
3) When potatoes are tender, add tomatoes, beans, spices and meat or fake meat. Cook for a few more minutes or another hour, depending on the consistency you want to achieve.
Some say you should have a glass of wine a day for your health, while others say that's hooey, or alcoholism. Still, there are very wise "researchers" and "physicians" that say you should drink three glasses of wine a day, which is the principle I choose to live my life by. I like this stew best with red, and since I don't have bags of money lying around, and am not yet at the level of connoisseurship where I can describe wines as mushy or having the flavor of dirty barn hay, I like what's on sale. As long as you stay away from the likes of Carlo Rossi you should be all right.
I picked up a bottle of Pepperwood Grove pinot noir for $6 at Wild Oats, but it was so delicious that my companions and I drank it all before we got to the stew. Another good choice is Spanish roija, Marquees de Cascaras. It costs around $10.