Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hearty roasted southwest chicken soup

I have long sought a recipe for chicken tortilla soup that's hearty rather than brothy, packs a robust flavor into the bowl, and doesn't call for "cream of fill-in-the-blank" soup (banned from my kitchen, I'm afraid). The frost propelled us to clear out the last of the peppers and tomatoes from the garden, yielding bags full of each. We froze a bunch of the peppers until we got tired of chopping, and stashed the remaining couple dozen jalapenos in the fridge. I mulled over what to do with them all day and around 3 in the afternoon, started experimenting. This soup requires some advance planning, but it is not difficult. It is very nutritious and a great way to get some veggies into your kids. And it is delicious! Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Chicken Soup for the Soul

15 roma tomatoes, sliced in half vertically and seeds removed
1 large purple onion, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch wedges
8 cloves of garlic, peeled
olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Prepare the veggies as above, then spread out on a jelly roll pan, drizzle with olive oil, toss lightly to coat, and face all of the tomatoes cut side up. Tuck the garlic into some of the tomatoes, sprinkle everything with salt and pepper, then roast in the oven at 300 degrees for 2 hours. No stirring required - just walk away.

When it's done, it should look like this. Meanwhile, prepare the chicken and jalapenos on the grill:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, thawed
cumin, coriander, chipotle chili powder, garlic powder
1 lime
8-10 jalapeno peppers

Sprinkle each chicken breast with the seasonings. Place the jalapenos and the chicken breasts on a preheated grill and cook for 8 minutes over medium heat. Rotate the jalapenos to get even browning of the skins, and remove them once they begin to split. Before turning the chicken breasts over, squeeze half a lime over them to moisten the spices. Cook for an additional 8 minutes, or until the juices run clear. Remove to a plate to allow the juices to settle before cutting each breast into thin strips across the grain, then chop the strips into 4ths. Slice the stem end off each jalapeno, cut lengthwise, and remove the seeds.

Do not fear the jalapeno. This may seem like an outrageous number of the feisty little buggers, but the grilling and subsequent simmering mellows the heat to almost zero. If my 2 year old can eat the soup without complaining, so can you.
Next, pull out an 8 quart soup pot. Scrape all of the tomatoes, onions and garlic in, and toss in the jalapenos. You will now need:
2 cans chicken stock
1 cup corn, frozen or canned (drain first)
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1/2 t. each oregano, cumin, coriander and if you're feeling spicy, chipotle chili powder
1/4 t. smoked salt (you can substitute liquid smoke, but add it cautiously and taste after every few drops - we're just trying to round out the flavor, not overwhelm it!)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Pour the chicken stock into the pot with the veggies and use an immersion blender to puree it all until smooth. If you'd like your soup runnier, add another can of stock. Stir in the corn, black beans, diced chicken, seasonings, and adjust to taste. Simmer on medium low for 5-10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld, then stir in the fresh cilantro and squeeze the other half the lime in just before serving.
Serve with avocado wedges, lime wedges (this one is really important - the kick of fresh lime squeezed into your bowl is just awesome), grated jack or chedder cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips. This quantity will serve 4- 6, depending on how hearty the servings are.

No comments: