Friday, November 28, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Mexican Chicken Soup

I was very excited to make this Mexican Chicken Soup as part of this month’s Barefoot Bloggers recipe chosen by Judy of Judy's Gross Eats.

It’s no secret I love TexMex and I tend to judge a Mexican restaurant by how good their Tortilla Soup is. Until now I haven’t come across a Mexican Soup recipe that I’ve liked this much. Its good folks, in fact I would go as far to say this is FANTASTIC.

Mexican Chicken Soup
Courtesy of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa

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

I don't do bone-in chicken, so my comprimise was four thinly sliced chicken breast, rinsed and patted dry. I drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper on both sides, and put them in the oven to roast for 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees, until done.

Because these were thinly sliced, it only took me 35 minutes to get it cooked through. Looks perfect! I’m going to set these aside and let them cool so I can shred the meat later.

I chopped two onions
and added them to my Rachael Ray dutch oven.

A good handful of petite and peeled carrots, that I dice very thinly (the way I like them in soups)…

Add those to the onion on the dutch oven.

Oops, I don’t have celery so I give a really good shake of celery salt over the onion and carrots. I really do like celery in soup.

Actually, in soup is about the only way I eat celery - and it may be the only green vegetable that I'm not crazy about.

Now add olive oil and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown.

My veggie mixture is really drying out so I am adding one Tablespoon of butter.

Now add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. We just want to sweat the garlic, not brown it.

We need 2.5 quarts of chicken stock. My cans are 14 oz each. (There are 32 ounces to a quart, which means I need 6 cans of stock)
Did you follow all that??

Add all six cans to the pot of vegetables.

I’m using a can of crushed tomatoes and a can of whole and peeled tomatoes.

I use my hands to break up the whole tomatoes.

Add the tomatoes and all the juice to the pot.

Add the can of crushed tomatoes to the pot.
Looks like my RR dutch oven isn't going to be big enough for this soup recipe. At this point I stop and start transfering my liquid to the largest stock pot that I own.

In this pot I still have some room to grow, boil and stir without it spitting out the top.

2-4 jalapenos. Most often than not I wish I had added the full amount of jalapenos. So I am going to wash, slice and deseed four jalapenos.

Clean out the inside and discard.

To make this easy on me I’m going to use my small chopper to do the trick for me.

Brilliant! Now add all this to the simmering soup.
Add cumin.

Coriander. I have to grind mine first.

Add to soup.

Add 1 tablespoon salt (depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock) and 1 teaspoon pepper.

I rinse and chop a handful of cilantro leaves.

Cut tortillas in half, then cut them crosswise into 1/2 inch strips.

Add to soup. THIS is the step that I've been missing in past recipes. The corn tortillas soften and disolve in the soup to thicken up the broth. I think this is essential to good Mexican Chicken Soup.
My addition to this recipe is one cup of frozen kernels of corn.

Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes.

Shred the chicken (by hand) and add to soup, heat through.

Serving directions...

Place slices of avocado and broken tortilla chips in the bottom of your bowl.

This is Mexican cheese called Cotija. I think in this recipe it is better than cheddar cheese.

Crumble on top of the avocado and chips.
Top with hot soup.
Just look at all the wholesome vegetables in this soup.

I like the cruchiness of the tortilla chips in this soup. I added Jim's chips on top.

This soup is so flavorful, full of healthy goodness and it's really filling.