From a foodie professor: Chicken Tortilla Soup

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This story is from this semester’s second edition of IMAGE Magazine, published last week and available at news stands around campus.

Being in the kitchen and cooking a meal for family and friends is one of my favorite things to do. For me, it’s super relaxing and somewhat mindless – a nice break from the usual.

IMG_3055And soups are my all-time top of the list dishes to prepare, especially hearty soup dishes as the fall and winter months approach. They are nutritious and filling, easy to prepare and enjoyed by all. As a young girl growing up in San Francisco, I remember that soup was always an essential and welcomed dish at the dinner table, particularly on those forever chilly and windy evenings.

I love trying new soup recipes from different cuisines. Amazing how many cultures have included soups throughout history as one of their main dishes. IMG_3075I especially like experimenting with different ingredients and adapting soup recipes that have been handed down in families for generations. Those are the best.

My adaptations tend to include additional vegetables and legumes to max out flavor and also nutrient content. In keeping with the Texas tradition, I would have to say that my Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe is one of my favorites. This recipe is a hearty adaptation from the classical south-of-the-border dish. A little meat, a lot of vegetables, an array of tasty garnishes and just enough spiciness to keep it interesting. Easily a dish that stands alone at the dinner table. Enjoy!

IMG_3034Chicken Tortilla Soup

Prep Time: 20 minutes                                                                                                                                     Servings: 8 – 10

Cook Time: 45 minutes

3 pounds boneless chicken breast or chicken thighs, cut in bite-size pieces

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

6 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

2 cups celery, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 poblano pepper, chopped

4 medium zucchini, sliced

½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

8 cups chicken stock

28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 (15 ounce) cans of enchilada sauce

28 ounce can white or yellow hominy, rinsed and drained

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Juice of 1 lime

Toppings/Garnish

Crushed tortilla chips or thin baked tortilla strips*

Sliced avocado

Shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Sour cream

Pico de gallo salsa

Chopped green onions

Directions

  1. Add olive oil in a medium/large stock pot and lightly brown chicken pieces. Then, add onion, carrots, celery, red/green pepper, poblano, cilantro, and minced garlic and sauté vegetables with the chicken for 5 minutes.
  2. Pour in chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, enchilada sauce, and season with chili powder, cumin, dried Italian seasoning. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a medium heat and cook for 30 minutes-40 minutes.
  3. Add zucchini, hominy and black beans to the soup and simmer for 10 minutes more until zucchini is tender. Add lime juice and stir.
  4. Ladle soup into individual serving bowls and garnish with tortilla chips/strips, avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream and green onions.IMG_3047
  5. Soup can be served with warmed tortillas filled with Pico de gallo salsa and shredded cheese. See below.
  6. If you have leftovers, this soup also freezes nicely for another day.

*Baked tortilla strips: cut flour or corn tortillas into 1/4 – 1/3 inch strips. Sprinkle lightly with salt or spicy salt mixture. Lay out strips on a cookie sheet and spray with olive oil. Toss until all tortilla strips are coated. Bake in 450 degree oven until tortilla strips are lightly browned.

**Warmed tortillas with Pico de gallo salsa and shredded cheese: spread 2-3 tablespoons Pico de gallo salsa on a tortilla and sprinkle 3 tablespoons shredded cheddar or jack cheese on top. Roll the tortilla up firmly, cover with a paper towel and warm on a plate in the microwave until cheese just melts. Cut warmed tortilla rolls in half and serve with soup.