FOTR: Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival

Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival

In our inaugural installment of Food on the Road we headed to Pueblo, Colorado for the 20th annual Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival.  Located 40 minutes south of Colorado Springs, Colorado, the city of Pueblo lies along the Arkansas River.  This source of water, combined with the region's arid climate, makes Pueblo County perfectly suited to growing chile peppers, and growing chile peppers is something the area farmers take very seriously!  More than 10 million pounds of chilies are grown in Pueblo County, Colorado.  Yep, you read that right, over 10 million pounds.  I think that calls for a celebration, and the same farmers that grow these phenomenal chilies put on one heck of a party to celebrate their crop!

Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival

Like religion and politics, one should be careful about discussing which region has the best chile peppers.  'Pepper-Heads,' as I like to call them, have even been known to have "heated" (yes pun intended) discussions over which farm produces the best peppers in each region.  Because of this we will not get into how we have roots in Southern New Mexico...  With the smell of roasting chilies in the air, all of this rivalry begins to melt away and you remember that where there are chilies roasting, there are chilies to eat!
Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival
Attendees watch as workers from Musso Farms bag roasted chilies

The Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival brings more than 100,000 attendees, over three days, to downtown Pueblo's Union Avenue.  While this year's numbers have not been totaled, last year saw more than $50,000 in roasted chilies sold.  The best part of the festival, for us, was seeing all of the chilies being roasted.  The air gets thick with the smell of roasting peppers and, if  you get too close, you might be overwhelmed by the affects of the capsaicin in the air.

Workers from Musso Farms manned several propane-fired roasters, each capable of roasting multiple bushels of chilies.  Working like a well-oiled machine, these workers kept a steady stream of roasted chilies flowing to patrons.  I don't know how these guys can do it; hour after hour of roasted chilies.  I think I would gain a hundred pounds over the three day festival!

Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival

Traveler Tip:

Save some money, and the hassle of carrying bags of roasted chilies around at the festival, by purchasing directly from area farms.  We were able to save $6 per bushel, by purchasing directly from Mauro Farms, and kept our hands free to eat all of the amazing food the festival had to offer!

Roasted Green Chile Soup

With fall around the corner, we thought we would prepare some of our roasted chilies in a cream-based soup.  This hearty soup really lets the roasted flavor shine through and keeps the heat down for those cursed with sensitivity to spicy foods.  It is a favorite of our family and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

  • 1 ounce unsalted butter
  • 1 ounce fine brown rice flour
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1.5 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant chicken bouillon granules
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced purple onion
  • 1 teaspoons garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, finely diced
  • 1 cup roasted green chilies, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper
  • pinch of white pepper
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 3/4 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
Serves 4

Cooking Instructions
In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium-high heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Add garlic, onion, carrots and bell pepper to saute pan and saute, stirring frequently, until the onions have become semi-translucent and the carrots have become tender.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and simmer, whisking constantly, until thickened to a roux. Slowly whisk in cream, milk and chicken bouillon and cook, stirring frequently, over medium-low heat until smooth.

Add vegetable mixture and chilies to milk mixture; stir to combine. Stir in salt, black pepper, cayenne and white pepper; simmer over low heat a few minutes. Simmer mixture 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add cheese and stir until melted. Season to taste and serve.  Top with cilantro and grilled chicken breast (optional).

Traveler Tip:

Save time on the trail and prepare this soup ahead of time.  The soup can be frozen and heated up when in camp.

Want to learn more?

Would you like to learn more about our Food on the Road project? Check out our Food on the Road page, where you can find links to all of our trips, and even suggest an independent food producer for us to visit!  Click here to learn more!

Also, please consider donating to Living Overland.  By donating to Living Overland, you will help Beau, Krista, and the team travel to, and photograph, these independent food producers.