Holly Arnold Kinney
To purchase a copy of the book:
Shinin' Times at The Fort, Stories, Recipes and Celebrations at the Landmark Colorado Restaurant
BOWL OF THE WIFE OF KIT CARSON
In the spring of 1961, two years before opening the Fort, my family and I took a road trip to Mexico in a tiny English Morris Mini Cooper S. When we reached Durango, some six hundred miles south of the border, we were told that the best place to eat was the drugstore. The next morning, we watched as a stream of young children came in from the fields to fill family lunch buckets with a special soup sold at the store. It smelled so good, we knew we had to try it.
The bowls we were served held a heady, spicy broth of chicken with nice bites of white meat, nutty garbanzo beans, rice, a touch of oregano, chunks of avocado, and bite-sized pieces of soft white cheese. The secret of the amazing flavor, though, was the chipotle chile. This is smoked jalapeño and gave the soup a distinctive bite and delicious smokiness.
Caldo Tlalpeño is the soup's proper name and when the Fort opened, it was squarely on the menu. No one could pronounce its name or knew what it meant and despite its innate deliciousness, the soup did not sell. One day Leona Wood, the septuagenarian who ran our gift shop-trade room on weekends, told us that she remembered "my grandmother serving us this dish!" We were thrilled to hear this. Miss Wood happened to be the last granddaughter of frontiersman Kit Carson, and with a little genealogical figuring, we dubbed the soup Bowl of the Wife of Kit Carson. It has been a bestselling signature dish ever since.
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
4 to 6 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon dried Mexican leaf oregano, crumbled
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup cooked, dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas), or canned garbanzos, rinsed and well drained
1 chipotle chile (canned), packed in adobo, minced
4 to 6 ounces Monterey Jack or Havarti cheese, diced
1 to 2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced
4 to 6 sprigs fresh cilantro (optional)
1 fresh lime, cut into 4 to 6 wedges
Place the chicken breasts and broth in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, skimming off and discarding any foam that rises to the top. Turn off the heat, cover, and allow the chicken to poach gently for 12 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pot and cut into strips, about 11/2 inches long. Return the chicken strips to the broth and add the oregano, rice, garbanzos, and chipotle.
Divide the cheese among 4 to 6 deep soup bowls.
Return the soup to a boil, then ladle it into the bowls. Garnish each portion with avocado slices, cilantro, if using, and a wedge of lime. Serve with hot tortillas as an appetizer or Duck Quesadillas as a main course.
February 21: Lunchbreak - Bowl of the Wife of Kit Carson
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