Monday, November 16, 2009

Cupboard Soup: Chicken, Green Chile, Tortilla Soup

A Cupboard Soup comes together on one of those days when I ask myself, "what do I have in the cupboard that could make a meal because I've already been to the grocery store 4 times this week?" This is one of my best successes so I thought it would be a good example of how to throw something together. I always keep onions, garlic, and my good old concentrated stock stock around. You also need something for flavor (herbs, tomatoes, salsa, chilies, sausage, leftover side dishes that won't turn into mush) and something for bulk (beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, canned or fresh veggies). I also like a protein (if that isn't where my main flavor is coming in) and I usually have that in my freezer from some budget-breaking trip to Costco. Follow the method below and you can change the ingredients around a million ways. I didn't have anything for bulk except tortillas so this turned out a little thin (I'm really more of a stew person than a soup person), but so good. It could have used maybe corn or potatoes or black beans.

Chicken, Green Chili, Tortilla Soup
serves 6
printable version
instructables version

2 chicken breasts
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
8 c stock
1 7oz. can of green salsa
2 4oz. cans diced green chiles
8 corn tortillas, cut into strips
1/2 bunch cilantro (more if you want garnish)
juice of 2 limes
1.5 T cumin
1 T oregano
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of cayenne
sour cream for garnish

  • Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts, then sprinkle one side with salt & pepper. Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a  soup pot (or saute pan if you're going to use a slow cooker) on medium-high heat. Place the salted side of the chicken down in the pan. Now sprinkle the other side with S&P. Brown both sides well, but don't worry about cooking them through. This searing step is optional, but it adds flavor.
  • Remove the chicken (either set it aside or put it in the slow cooker). In the same pan, saute the onions until the edges are starting to brown , then throw in the garlic and saute until it starts to brown also. You  might have to add a little more oil.
  • Toast the cumin by sprinkling it over the onions and garlic and stirring it for a few minutes.
  • Pour a few cups of stock into the pan and scrape all the good browned bits off the bottom.
  • Add everything except the sour cream and half of the tortillas to the soup pot or slow cooker. This soup is best if you put it on early and let it simmer for a couple of hours (I put it on high in the slow cooker while I'm at work all day).
  • When you're almost ready to eat, take the chicken out of the pot and cut it into bite-sized pieces. I like to give it a quick blend with my hand-blender before adding the chicken back in, but that's optional.
  • For a great garnish, spread the remaining 4 tortillas (cut into strips) on a cookie sheet. Drizzle the strips with oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Give them a quick toss to coat everything and pop these in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350, or until they're brown.
  • Serve with the toasted tortilla strips and a generous dollop of sour cream.
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