(Picture courtesy of Food network, though mine looks pretty similar)
Yeah, that's what I've been waiting for. It is one of my favorite fall meals, but since I'd been living with my parents for the past several months, I hadn't been able to make it. My mom has a major aversion to spice, and this soup is only good when chipotle peppers are used liberally! So, tonight, I got to make it for the first time this fall/winter.
I used to strongly dislike soups, but I've developed a recent affinity for them, especially the hearty ones. One of my favorite things about them is how very flexible they are. Start with a base, and then adjust it however you want. It is the perfect opportunity to get creative for someone like me, who is kind of a die-hard recipe follower most of the time. This particular recipe is adapted from Rachel Ray's Why-the-Chicken-Crossed-the-Road Santa Fe-Tastic Tortilla Soup.
In addition to have an absurdly long name, it also has some extra steps that I don't think are necessary. I've found a few shortcuts that I think get the same flavor but with way less work. I also add beans, which I think bulks out the soup, or allows me to use less chicken if I'm feeling a bit cheap. Plus, I make mine in the crock pot. I initially did so out of necessity, but I've found that it is a very satisfying feeling to have dinner preparation completely finished by 1pm, or 2pm, or whenever I get around to it! So here is my adaptation of her recipe:
Olive oil for sauteing
1/2 to 1 pound Chicken breast or tenders, cubed
1 medium onion
1-2 zucchini, chopped
1 bell pepper, or some frozen chopped bell peppers (red peppers were a $1.79 a piece today! I used frozen from Trader Joe's - worked great!)
1/2 a bag of frozen corn, or 1 can of corn, or however much you like - we like corn in our house!
3 cloves garlic
1-4 Chipotle peppers in Adobo, plus some of the Adobo sauce
2-3 14 ounce cans of fire-roasted tomatoes (or some combination of fire-roasted, diced and stewed. I highly recommend the fire-roasted in some quantity - it adds a little extra smoke without the work of charring the corn and peppers)
1-2 cans of beans (I use one black and one kidney)
3-4 cups of Chicken Stock
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
Yogurt or sour cream
Blue corn tortilla chips
Saute chicken pieces in olive oil until browned. Remove, add a little more oil if needed, and then add the onion, zucchini and garlic, and bell pepper if using fresh. Once veggies are slightly browned, but not too soft, add the chipotle peppers. I like to chop mine a little first. Put the veggies and chicken into a 6 quart or larger crock-pot. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, beans, cumin, and chili powder. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Add the corn and frozen peppers (if using) during the last 1-2 hours of cooking.
Serve with some or all of the above garnishes, or none, if you want to be all purist. But I highly recommend the tortilla chips - is it called tortilla soup, after all. I serve it with a salad and homemade cornbread - very few things can top that!