Soup is one of my favorite meals. For years I dreamed of opening a restaurant that specialized in just soups. Who knows? Maybe that will still happen. There's nothing better than homemade soup and fresh bread.
This month, it suddenly became my turn to select a recipe for the Barefoot Bloggers. I say suddenly, because I had calculated that January would be my month (only uber-analyticals would probably think that way), so I guess some of the early participants had dropped out. This also meant I had to think fast (also a problem for analyticals). I decided to look through my 'to try' list for Ina's recipes, and saw the one for Mexican Chicken Soup. At least for the Northern Hemisphere, this is a soup-time-of-year, and Thanksgiving notwithstanding, that became my choice. In fact, I had planned to make this soup for my personal Thanksgiving, but a last minute invitation put an end to that, so I made it for Thanksgiving Eve.
I did halve the recipe, used boneless chicken breasts and diced tomatoes, and substituted parsley for cilantro. I thought the soup was delicious, and will certainly become part of my soup rotation throughout the year. The seasonings were right on the mark, too. I usually increase the amount of cumin because I love that flavor, and I made sure the saltiness was where it should be. Tasting is essential here, and proper seasoning makes all the difference.
While I forgot the avocado (duh), I did make my own tortilla chips, so along with the garnishes of sour cream and grated cheddar cheese, it was a perfect meal.
I would also add that this soup easily converts to a vegetarian version. Instead of chicken and chicken broth, substitute vegetable broth and pinto beans (my favorite), or some combination of beans and corn, which make a complete protein. You won't even miss the chicken.
I've included the recipe this time because it was my choice, but you can also find it on the Food Network website. Other Barefoot Bloggers have shared their opinions about the soup, too, so please check out their sites as well.
- 4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
- Good olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
- 1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
- 2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
- 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 1/2 quarts chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed
- 2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional
- 6 (6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas
- For serving: sliced avocado, sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat. Cover and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, 1 tablespoon salt (depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock), 1 teaspoon pepper, and the cilantro, if using. Cut the tortillas in 1/2, then cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and broken tortilla chips.