Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I've been making this soup for several years now and it's one of our family favorites. Problem is, it changes a little bit everytime I make it. It's a soup that I stand over the stove a lot, adding a pinch of this and a pinch of that. It's no secret that I like it WELL seasoned so I typically add taco seasoning, cumin, and lime juice as I go, until I get the flavor that I like best. So, it's hard to really nail down exact amounts of spices. This recipe is really just a rough road map. There are a lot of ingredients listed with an "optional" behind them. Feel free to start with this and add to it as you make it, or scale it back a bit.

For instance, we like it soupy and not very "tomatoey" in our house, so I never add the tomato sauce/enchilada sauce. As you can tell from the pictures, it still has plenty of tomato. But my mom likes it very stew-like and always adds that extra tomato liquid, and usually a little less other liquid. Plus, I like a lot of lime and usually use the juice from 1 large lime... versus that of a small lime. Or, the ways you cook your chicken can really change the flavor of your soup. If you cook it in taco seasoning or marinate it beforehand, you won't need as many seasonings. If you're lazy like me and usually throw the chicken into the crockpot frozen... you need more. The seasonings listed are based on chicken being cooked completely naked... in fact I just boil it real quick when I'm not using the crock pot. The ways to personalize it are numerous.

Any way you make it though, it is delicious. It's the perfect comfort soup and relatively healthy. Plus, when you make it in the crockpot, it's a snap to put together.

1.25 lbs. chicken, cooked and shredded
1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small green pepper, diced (optional)
1 can (4 oz.) green chili peppers (optional)
oil for sauteing
2 cans chicken broth, plus enough water to make about 4 cups liquid
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce or 1 can (10 oz.) enchilada sauce (optional)
2 tsp. cumin
1-2 Tbsp. Taco seasoning
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen corn
2 medium avocadoes, sliced or cut into large cubes
2 limes
sour cream

1. Saute onion, garlic, green pepper in vegetable oil for 3-4 minutes.

2. Add shredded chicken, tomatoes, broth and water and any other liquid you choose to use.

3. Add cumin, salt, pepper, taco seasoning, and chili powder and bring everything to a boil. Allow to simmer for 2-25 minutes.

4. Add corn, chopped cilantro, and juice from 1 lime. Continue to simmer until corn is cooked through, about 10 more minutes. (At this point, I often add a bunch of cilantro to the soup and simmer it with the soup for the last 10 minutes, just to infuse a bit more cilantro flavor into the broth. I usually tie it in a bundle and then remove it right before serving. I have no idea if it actually does anything. But it makes my husband happy and makes me feel better.)

5. Serve over chopped avocadoes, and garnished with cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheese, lime wedges and tortilla chips.

Alternately, in your slow cooker:

1. Place chicken, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and peppers in your crock pot. Pour broth, water, and any other liquid over that. Add seasonings and cook on low for 6-8 hours or low 3-4 hours.

2. When using the slow cooker, feel free to add you chicken breast uncooked, and even frozen at the beginning. Then, with about an hour left, pull it out and shred it. Then add it back to the pot.