A pantry-cleaning frenzy left me with three packages of opened brown sugar, two of confectioners’ sugar, four types of chocolate in various shapes and sizes and several spices I had no idea were back there.

I also found a 1-pound package of chipotle peppers. I’d ordered them in the spring and then promptly forgot them.

One pound of some things isn’t all that much – think sausage, carrots, milk. But one pound of dried, very light peppers is another story. I had a LOT of peppers.

Chipotle chilies are smoked, dried jalapeno peppers. As I thought about how to preserve them, make them into gifts or use them up before they turn into dust, I came upon some recipes for chipotles en adobo.

En adobo is a red, somewhat sweet-and-sour tomato sauce and a quick way to use chipotles without having to reconstitute them one by one. It keeps well, can be canned or covered in oil and refrigerated, and it’s delicious – bringing a full, smoky, spicy taste that bumps up a lackluster dish.

Once I had the sauce, I could use it all kinds of ways in a single Mexican meal, one that happens to be great for serving a crowd because it’s a make-your-own set-up.People with allergies and food dislikes can navigate their personal potholes while others can taste everything.

If you are serving a crowd, consider supplementing the meal with tortillas, corn bread, shredded cabbage, baby spinach leaves, grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, lime wedges and cilantro leaves.

ChipotleS en Adobo

Makes about 2 cups

2 cups whole chipotle peppers

1 cup juice from fresh or canned tomatoes

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all the ingredients plus 1 cup water in a small saucepan with a lid. Bring the mixture to a simmer and then cover, stirring occasionally until the peppers have softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool and the peppers absorb more of the liquid.

If after that, more than just a little liquid remains, bring the mixture back to a simmer, and simmer uncovered until the liquid reduces to a scant amount.

Store in glass jars covered with olive oil or can them and store in the pantry.

Chipotle Tomato and Potato Soup with Lime and Chive Crema

Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups diced onion

11/2 cups diced celery

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons minced garlic

4 cups large diced Yukon Gold or other yellow potato

2 chipotles en adobo, stemmed, seeded and minced

1/2 cup white wine

4 cups diced tomatoes

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

Heat a large stock pot over medium high heat and add the oil, onions and celery. Sauté 7 to 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent and just beginning to brown on the edges.

Add the salt, garlic and potatoes and reduce the heat to medium low.

Sauté for another 5 minutes or until the potatoes begin to soften.

Add the remaining ingredients and turn the heat back up to medium-high until the soup begins to simmer. Reduce heat and taste for salt.

Simmer for 30 minutes and serve hot with Lime and Chive Crema.

Lime and Chive Crema

You can make the crema up to 48 hours ahead.

Yield: Generous 1/4 cup

4 ounces crème fraîche or Mexican crema

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lime juice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Several grinds fresh black pepper

1 tablespoon minced chives

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Chipotle Chili Chicken

Serve with Avocado and Lime Salsa.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 to 3 pounds boneless chicken, cut into 3/4-inch chunks

2 cups diced onion

3/4 cup diced orange pepper

3/4 cup diced green pepper

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 chipotles en adobo, stemmed, seeded and minced

1 tablespoon garlic

3 cups cooked black beans

2 cups crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup red wine

2 tablespoons lime juice

Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat and add the oil and chicken.

Sauté the chicken until it is nearly cooked through, about 10 minutes, then add the onions, peppers and salt. Sauté until the onions are soft and translucent, 7-10 minutes, reducing the heat if needed to keep from scorching.

Add the chilies and garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes or so. Add the beans, tomatoes and wine and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Cover and continue to simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the lime juice just before serving.

Avocado and Lime Salsa

Makes about 1 cup

1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced

1/2 cup minced cilantro

Large pinch of salt to taste

1 tablespoon lime juice

Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Combine all ingredients and serve immediately.

Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “At Home, At Sea.” She can be reached at:

[email protected]

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