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Friday, January 22, 2010

Mexican Penicillin

If Matzoh Ball Soup is Jewish Penicillin, than Chicken Tortilla Soup HAS to do the same. For those of you that know me well, you probably have this recipe, or have already made it.

I'm kind of famous for my chicken tortilla soup. I have no idea how it happened, but it just did. (Probably because I facebook and talk about it non-stop from October through May.) It is my go-to food, so very often.

It's a soup recipe that I've cultivated and changed over the last 3 years or so. I make it, generally speaking, about 3 times a month. Sometimes I add different peppers, sometimes I make it a bit thicker or thinner. It's so good, and it is phenomenally soothing, both cooking it AND eating it. There has to be some health correlation of the chicken soup to spicy pepper ratio that always makes me feel better. Even if I've got a stomach bug, I've been known to drag my sweatpant-covered-behind down the stairs to make it. It just makes me FEEL GOOD.

I've been thinking a lot over the last few days about what recipes have a good, long, life, and this is one of them. This soup can (though it never does) sit in the fridge for about a week, and you just know it's there, ready to be reheated, and loved. It's just made to be a go to, and made to edit to your liking. Vegetarians could EASILY make it, substituting beans or another form of protein, and vegetable stock. You could add chorizo (I have before) and it's a completely different soup. At some point, I should do an experiment where I make a different pot of it every day for a week, and see just how DIFFERENT they really are.

The recipe I'm including below is my latest--the ancho chile version. Anchos are an AMAZING dried pepper--they taste like spicy raisins. And yes, I stole that description from Bobby Flay. Sorry Bobby.
This one also includes beer, and masa. If you don't have masa, feel free to use flour of any kind.

(I've included some maybe correct caloric number below. I don't know if it's bogus, it's what my iPhone app "Lose It" says it is. So take that for what it is.)


1 medium onion (white or spanish or yellow is great), chopped
3 cloves of garlic (or 5 if you're me), chopped or grated
1 large bell peppers, chopped
1 poblano pepper (or jalapeno, if you can’t find a poblano)
2 chicken breasts, shredded or chopped (already cooked)***
1 TBSP cumin
1 TBSP Coriander (if you have it)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup tortilla chips, crushed
hot sauce
1 TBSP masa, or flour
1 quart chicken stock
1 pkg dried ancho chiles
1 medium bodied beer (I recommend something smoked, if you're up for it, or a dark Mexican beer like Negra Modela or my new favorite--Cucapa)
zest and juice of 2 limes

***I buy rotisserie chicken most of the time, and just shred that. However, you can also just chop up 2 chicken breasts, and brown them up, and then continue with the recipe as follows, on top of the chicken. Another FANTASTIC METHOD is to roast the chicken breasts (or dark meat) on the bone, and then pull the meat.***

In a small sauce pot, place the ancho chiles and the quart of stock, and simmer at med heat until the chiles are softened and reconstituted. Usually takes between 5-15 minutes.

In a large soup pot (preferably heavy bottomed), cook the onion, peppers, and garlic on medium heat or so in a little olive oil, for about 5 minutes or until softened. 
Season with the cumin, coriander, salt and pepper, and let cook for another 2 minutes.

When anchos are softened, puree in food processor (or blender) with a splash of the stock—do NOT throw the stock away!

In the meantime, crush up tortilla chips (just eyeball a cup). I put them in a ziploc bag and pound the heck out of them until they almost resemble large bread crumbs. It's quite good therapy after a long day.

Add tortilla chips, stir the mixture. It will be THICK! Add hot sauce. If you like it spicy, add about 2 TBSP. If not, go smaller. J is, as you all know by now, a fire-eater, so I usually add a lot and it's not too intense for little old me.

Deglaze the pan with the beer—pour in, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the stuck bits from the bottom.
Add pureed ancho chiles, stir.

Add chicken stock from the anchos, stir. Bring soup to a boil. 

Add zest of two limes, save juice for serving.

Add chicken (if you are using shredded rotisserie)

Reduce heat to low, and keep soup covered at a very low simmer for about 30 minutes (I've done it up to 3 hours, and it's delicious no matter what.)

I serve it with a little chopped cilantro, a little lime (if you want), and Jayson PILES ON the sour cream and shredded cheese (preferably mozzarella or a good Mexican cheese like Chihuaha or even a Monterey Jack.) For my dish, I tend to use non-fat greek yogurt, or just regular non-fat yogurt. It has such a similar taste and consistency.)

WITHOUT TOPPINGS: If my calculations are correct, it’s approximately 365 calories a bowl. And that's for a decent sized bowl. But who knows if that's actually correct? And who cares! It's super healthy and delicious! 

1 comment:

  1. i'm drooling. this is NOT a good time of day to read this blog as I am leaving work heading for the grocery it!