Monday, March 15, 2010

Julie's Supper Club: Tortilla Soup

"What's for dinner?", asks my aunt Julie on her new blog: Julie's Supper Club. That's her on the right, with my uncle Larry sporting the tres-cool double thumbs up, in an image I totally lifted from her aforementioned blog. You've met her before, when I talked about her Cabbage Salad back in January.

So, WFD? Today, it's leftover soup. This recipe isn't precisely in-line with my aunt's search for dinners that don't take forever to make after work, because it does take... awhile. That's why I made it yesterday (on a Sunday) when I had the time, and serving it for dinner tonight will be as easy as punching buttons on the microwave.

I'll give you the "recipe", but be advised that I'm not much of a recipe-follower when it comes to meal cooking (baking is an entirely different story. Baking is chemistry. Cooking is chemistry of the heart. Or soul. Or something that comes from a love-place that doesn't require precise measurements. Work with me, people!). The recipe is easily scalable and will accommodate however much of whatever you want to put in; what follows is how I made it yesterday:

Tortilla Soup

  • Chicken (I used 4 boneless/skinless breasts plus some leftover thighs I had in the freezer)
  • Prepared chicken broth (I used one 49oz can of Swanson's; you'll want enough to cover the chicken.)
  • 2 cans Ro*tel Lime & Cilantro (use whichever flavor/heat you prefer. We're wimpy.)
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 2 cans hominy
  • 2 cans (or use frozen) sweet whole kernel corn
  • 1 bag bite size corn chips (I like Tostitos white corn)
  • 1 bag shredded cheese (I prefer jack, but the non-seasoned 'mexi-' blends work fine.)
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • Fresh limes

Directions

Put chicken into a stock pot, and add enough broth to cover. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, at which point you'll remove it and set it aside until it is cool enough to handle. While the chicken cools, skim the broth.

Sidebar: At this point I sometimes throw everything into the icebox. This makes removing the fat and ick from the broth a whole lot easier, so long as you've used boneless meat. If you use bone-in meat you're likely to get a gelatin out of chilling it). Isn't it so quaint how I said "icebox" right then? Onward:

Add both cans of Ro*tel (do not drain).

Drain, rinse, and add all remaining canned items (black beans, kidney beans, hominy, corn). You don't need to do this, but it's how I do it. I've made it without draining the hominy and corn, and it turns out just fine, but I will always (always) rinse the beans. Bring this all back up to a gentle boil... not much more than a simmer, really. You don't want it at a rolling boil.

Next, turn your attention to the chicken. Some people don't mind (even like, I guess) bits of skin and fat and gristly gack in their soup. We are not these people. Thus, I very carefully go through all of the chicken by hand, cleaning and tearing bite size bits of meat (and only meat) to toss back into the pot.

Once you've got the chicken appropriately cleaned and sized bite-ably, return it to the pot and simmer for, you know, awhile.

Chop up the cilantro, and cut limes in half.

To serve:

Put a handful of chips into a soup bowl; top with shredded cheese and chopped cilantro. Ladle hot soup in gently, and top with a few squeezes of lime. Enjoy!