Friday, January 27, 2012

Mexican Chicken and Vegetable Soup

This is a riff on Chicken Tortilla Soup. I modified Rick Bayless's Sopa Azteca Recipe and then loaded it with veggies. It was pretty easy to make and packs a nice punch of flavor. It's great topped with a little shredded cheese and a squeeze of lime. Diced avocado would also be a nice topping addition. I like this recipe because it's healthy eating with the feel of being slightly indulgent.

You could make this soup more indulgent by adding tortilla strips or making your own. Homemade tortilla chips are a cinch to make. To make tortilla strips to top your soup -  just stack 2 corn tortillas, use a pizza cutter  to cut them in half. From there cut into strips. Spray a baking sheet with canola spray. Place strips in even layer on baking sheet and spray with a little more canola spray. Dust with salt and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for around 5 minutes. Watch to ensure they don't burn.

What drew me to this soup recipe was the roasted chiles. Rick Bayless's recipe calls for a large dried pasilla (negro) chile quickly toasted over an open flame but I wasn't sure if I was going to find one so I instructed Adam to pick me up a fresh anaheim chile. (I wanted to make it as easy as possible for him) A poblano might work well too, although it might be spicier. You can roast your chile over an open flame on your stove or pop it in the oven under broil and turn frequently, making sure to  keep an eye on it.

Mexican Chicken and Vegetable Soup
4 - 6 servings

1 large Anaheim Chile
1 - 15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes 
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium brown onion, diced or sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly minced
1/2 to whole jalapeno (depending on how spicy you want it), seeded and chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 pound chicken tenders or breasts, boiled and shredded*
1 red bell pepper
2 small to medium zucchinis
1/2 cup corn 
1/2 teaspoon salt - or salt to taste

- Roast the anaheim chile and red pepper over an open flame, turning often. Or, alternatively, preheat oven to broil and place peppers in oven. Check often and turn often. Remove when skin is charred. Place charred pepper and chile in a ziploc plastic bag. Seal.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in large pot. Chop onion, garlic, and jalapeno - add to heated oil. Cook, stirring  occasionally until onion softens and garlic turns golden. About 5 to 8 minutes. 
- Remove the red pepper and chile from bag and peel off skins. Remove seeds and roughly chop both. Place red pepper aside for use later. Add chopped anaheim chile and canned tomatoes with their juices to a blender. Scoop up the onions, garlic, and jalapenos with a slotted spoon, pressing against the side of the pot to leave behind as much oil as possible, transfer to the blender. Blend the chile, tomato, onion mixture until pureed and smooth.
- Return pot to medium-high heat. When pot is hot add the puree and cook, stirring constantly until it is fragrant and slightly thicker, about 6 minutes.

- Add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add salt to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes. 
- Chop zucchini into fourths. Add zucchini to pot. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add corn, diced roasted red pepper, and shredded chicken. Remove from heat. If you are using frozen corn, add it with the zucchini in the step above.

- Serve with a fresh wedge of lime, cheese if desired, and tortilla strips if desired.

*I boiled 1 pound of chicken tenders in chicken broth and some spices (garlic, onion, chile powder) and then shredded it and added it to the soup. I feel this resulted in somewhat dry chicken. You could use leftover cooked rotisserie chicken or do as Rick Bayless suggests (what I will do next time I make this) and add 1/2 inch diced raw chicken breasts to the soup 10 minutes before the soup is done. Bring it to a boil again after adding the chicken and then reduce to a simmer until the chicken is cooked through.

Peace, love, soup, and happiness!


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