By Melanie Brubaker Mazur
The winner of the people's choice award at this year's Zucchini Festival celebrity cookoff at the Pine River Public Library was a yummy pot of soup.
Tom Kaufman, the fire marshal for the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District, said the soup has been perfected over many years of cooking filling meals for hungry firefighters.
Add some salad and a good loaf of bread, and you have a good winter supper that is hearty enough to feed a hungry family.
Kaufman said zucchini isn't in the recipe, but he added it for the festival.
It's also a flexible recipe that can use what's available in your garden at the end of fall or whatever's in your pantry.
Fire Marshal Tom's green chili chicken cheese soup:1 pound chicken breast cut into small cubes1 pound ground turkey1 yellow onion, diced2 tablespoons minced garlic2 teaspoons ground cumin2 teaspoons Mexican oregano2 teaspoons minced cilantro1 can stewed tomatoes with green chiles1 can chicken broth1 frozen tub Bueno brand green chili (mild, hot or fire-roasted.)2-4 jalapenos (optional)8-10 small sweet peppers (yellow, orange and red)1 can corn1 can garbanzo beans6-8 potatoes cut into small pieces2 cans Campbell's Fiesta Nacho Cheese soupOne-half gallon milk5 or 6 small zucchini (optional)Saute meats, onion and garlic in small amount of oil. Add tomatoes, corn, green chili, garbanzo beans, sweet peppers, chicken broth and spices and simmer over low heat.Add potatoes and cook until tender.Add soup and milk and heat until it is mixed and headed throughly. Garnish with shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese.Zuchinni festival version: Grill five or six small zucchini by cutting them lengthwise, then season with salt and pepper and olive oil. Grill for five minutes on each side, cool, then cut into small quarter-inch sections and add to soup mixture.Chef's note: The recipe will make enough for one Crock Pot or large soup pot. It was originally designed for a crew of eight so plan accordingly. The leftovers freeze well for a later date.