FoodTime with Chris Koetke

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Dean talks food with the Dean of Culinary School at Kendall College, and the host of “Let’s Dish” Chris Koetke about meatless dishes.

Take a look at some of Chris’ delicious recipes…

Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup
This soup marries sweet comfort food with the smoky bite of chipotles.  It is perfect for cold weather and takes advantage of all the healthy attributes of sweet potatoes without loading up the fat!  The extra can be frozen for later or eaten over a couple of days when stored in the refrigerator.  This makes a very spicy soup.  If you want it less spicy, add half of the chipotle chilies.
Difficulty: Moderate
Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Serves: 12
3 ½ pounds sweet potatoes (about 10 medium sweet potatoes)
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cups diced onions
1 cup celery, small dice
6 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon Chile powder
¼-½ of a 7.5 oz can Chipotle chile in adobo sauce (reserve 2 teaspoons sauce for salsa)—
            using ½ can will make the soup very spicy.
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaf
2 bay leaves
8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
½ teaspoon salt
  • Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and roast in a 350° F oven for about 2 hours or until the sweet potatoes are very soft.  Remove from oven and let cool.
  • In a large pot, sauté onions and celery in olive oil until the onions are soft (about 8 minutes).  Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Add chile powder, chipotle, cumin, oregano, and bay leaves.  Cook for 30 seconds or until the spices are fragrant.
  • Add broth and salt.  Peel sweet potatoes and place them in the broth.   Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Remove bay leaf and process soup in a blender until smooth.  Be very careful when blending hot soup as it can come out of the blender if you are not careful.  Never fill the blender container more than half way.  Always start blending on the lowest speed, and cover the blender with a thick kitchen towel which you hold to the top of the blender.
  • Serve soup with sesame cilantro salsa (below).
Sesame Cilantro Salsa
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Serves:  12
1 bunch of cilantro (including stems), minced
¼ cup roasted sesame seeds
4 green onions, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup lime juice
2 teaspoons Adobo sauce from chipotles
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Place all ingredients in the blender and process just until smooth.  If the blender has a hard time grinding the ingredients, add more water.
TOFU DISHES: tofu is one of the most misunderstood ingredients. It can be used in so many places, like spaghetti sauce
Spicy Tofu and Swiss Chard Hot Pot
Yield:  5 servings
1 oz dried shitake mushrooms
4 cups low-sodium, no-fat vegetable broth
1 ½ Tablespoons peanut oil
1 lb firm tofu, cut into ½ inch slices
¼ teaspoon 5-spice powder
Flour for dredging
1 ½ Tablespoons sesame oil
1 red or yellow onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 large red bell pepper, cut into thin 2-inch long strips
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 ½ Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sugar
3 Tablespoons sake
2 tsp Asian chili paste (This will make it quite spicy.  Add 1 teaspoon only if you want it less spicy)
1 large bunch Swiss chard (can be any color), washed, leaves and stems separated
12 oz. udon noodles, boiled in salted water until tender
  1. Bring vegetable broth to a boil.  Turn off heat and add mushrooms.  Let the mushrooms sit for 30 minutes, until softened.
  2. Remove the mushrooms and squeeze out any liquid over the pot of vegetable broth.  Pour the vegetable broth from the pot into a bowl carefully and slowly to be sure that any sand is left behind.  The amount of vegetable stock should be 4 cups.  If it is less, add water to measure 4 cups total.  Remove the stems from the shiitake and discard. Slice the caps very thinly and reserve.
  3. Season tofu with 5-spice and a touch of black pepper.  Dredge in flour.  In a large sauté pan (preferably non-stick), sauté tofu in peanut oil until browned.  Remove from pan.  When cool, cut each slice into 6.
  4. Add sesame oil to the same pan and sauté onions and red peppers over high heat until softened (about 5 minutes).  Meanwhile, dice Swiss card stems.  Add to sauté pan and sauté for 3 more minutes.  Add garlic and ginger and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add reserved mushrooms and broth, sugar, sake, soy sauce, sautéed tofu, and chili paste.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 8 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, slice Swiss chard leaves into ¼ inch slices.  Add the chard and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, until the chard is just tender, but still bright.
  7. Serve over hot udon noodles.
GOOD OLD VEGGIES: Ultimately, veggies are more interesting than meat.  There are way more options and with a little creativity, they are wonderful.  Roasted vegetables, Moroccan vegetable tagines, etc.
Feta and Parmesan Potatoes
Difficulty: easy
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main course along with a salad and some other vegetables
1 ½ lbs. very small red potatoes, cut in half
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 oz. crumbled feta cheese
2 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon Italian herb blend
1 Tablespoon minced parsley
2 Tablespoons minced green onions.
  1. Season potatoes with salt and pepper and rub them with olive oil.  Place on a baking sheet.
  2. Cook potatoes in a 350º oven until browned and tender (about 30 minutes).  Stir the potatoes periodically as they cook to be sure they cook evenly.
  3. When the potatoes are done place in a bowl.  Toss potatoes with cheeses and Italian herbs, parsley, and green onions.  Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.
BEANS AND GRAINS: These dishes add texture and nutrition to veggie offerings. Many “new” grains getting a lot of attention (quinoa, etc) and some oldies are getting they attention they deserve too—like steel cut oats as a savory item.
Stuffed Baked Poblano Chilies
I cannot take credit for this wonderful vegetarian entrée.  Instead, it is something that my parents invented recently and happened to describe to me on a phone call.  I have embellished it somewhat and love the recipe because it is so fast and easy to make.
Difficulty: moderate
Prep time:  25 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Serves: 5
10 poblano chilies, rinsed
2  14 oz cans pinto beans, well rinsed
¾ lb. grated pepper jack cheese
2 cups chunky salsa (your favorite brand and as hot as you wish)
1  14 oz can tomato sauce
¼ cup cilantro
Lime wedges
  1. Place the poblano chilies in a covered microwave proof dish.  Microwave for about 6-8 minutes or until the chilies are softened.  (Depending on the strength of the microwave, this may take longer.)  Remove and let cool.
  2. Cut the ends off the chilies.  Discard the seeds from the inside.  Dice the chile tops and reserve.
  3. In a large bowl, combine diced chile tops, pinto beans, ½ pound of grated pepper jack cheese, and 1 cup of salsa.
  4. Pour tomato sauce and remaining 1 cup of salsa in the bottom of a 9 x 13 glass baking dish.  Mix together.
  5. Fill the poblano chilies with the bean mixture and place them in the 9 x 13 baking dish so that they make 2 rows down the long side of the baking dish with the tips at the center of the dish and the open ends of the chilies prompted against the side.
  6. When all the chilies are filled, cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 350˚ F oven for 45 minutes.  After 45 minutes, remove foil and sprinkle with remaining ¼ pound of pepper jack cheese.  Return to the oven for another 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
  7. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

Chef Chris Koetke at work in the kitchen. (Chicago Tribune photo by Chris Walker)


  • wendy

    Is it possible to get the recipes that the callers gave as well as Chris'? They all sounded good, but I could not write them down as I was driving.

  • Jack Smith

    Very interesting breakdown, indeed. It’s nice to have such information available in one location and some ideas for new and different directions to take to help one stand out.

Comments are closed.