Sunday, March 4, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

We woke up this morning to thick gray clouds hanging low over Bellingham Bay.  A cool, damp Sunday begs for curling up on the sofa with a book (okay, maybe a laptop and Pinterest…) and a pot of soup simmering on the stove.

If you’re having a lazy Sunday, here’s one of our favorite soup recipes—Chicken Tortilla Soup. 

It does take awhile to make everything from scratch, but it’s very little hands-on work.  If you want to make a quick version, use boxed organic chicken stock, drained and rinsed canned beans, canned chile peppers and shredded chicken. 

Serve with good crusty bread or homemade corn bread, for dipping.  This soup is also great for parties, served with a variety of condiments for topping. 

Happy reading…or pinning.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Make Chicken & Chicken broth

1 whole chicken, about 4 – 5 pounds
1 whole onion, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, whole
2 celery stalks, whole
2 cloves garlic, whole
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
2 – 3 bay leaves
Sea salt, to taste

Place the chicken in a very large stock pot with all the rest of the ingredients.  Cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Cook, skimming off any foam that rises to the top, about 1 ½ - 2 hours or until chicken is just done.

Remove chicken from broth.  Let cool slightly and shred meat.  Return chicken bones to pot and continue to simmer for another 2 hours or so, until broth is very flavorful.  Strain broth.  You should have about 8 cups for the soup. 

Make the Beans

2 cups dried black beans
2 bay leaves
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 dried ancho chile pepper

Rinse beans.  Place beans in a pot and cover with cold water by 2 inches.  Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for 2 hours. 

Drain the beans, return to the pot with the bay leaves, ancho chile and onion.  Cover with cold water by 2 inches and simmer for about 2 hours, or until beans are tender.  If not using right away, refrigerate for up to 5 days.  Extra beans can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Roast the Peppers

4 poblano peppers

Preheat broiler to high.  Place poblano peppers on baking sheet and place under broiler about 5 minutes, turning once, until charred but not burnt.  Place peppers in a plastic Ziploc bag and allow to cool.  Once cooled, peel and seed the peppers.  Coarsely chop and reserve.

Make Soup

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1 tablespoon cumin
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bottle dark beer (not IPA)
2 corn tortillas, cut or torn into 1 inch pieces
Reserved chicken stock (about 8 cups)
4 roasted poblano peppers, roughly chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 – 2 cups reserved black beans, with cooking liquid
About 2 cups reserved shredded chicken
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Lime wedges
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese, or your favorite cheese
Diced avocado
Greek Yogurt

Heat a large stock pot over medium heat.  Add oil, onion and garlic, salt and pepper, and the rest of the spices.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and spices are fragrant. 

Push vegetables and spices to side of pot and add tomato paste to the middle.  Cook tomoto paste until slightly darkened, about 2 minutes.  Stir in onion and spice mixture.  Add beer, scraping any dark bits off the bottom of the pan. 

Add corn tortillas and reserved chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, stirring, until corn tortillas begin to soften.

Add roasted poblanos, corn and black beans, and chicken.  Let soup simmer at least 30 minutes, or until the tortillas have disappeared and soup is thickened.

Stir in chopped cilantro.  Serve with lime wedges, topped with shredded cheese, diced avocado and a dollop of Greek Yogurt.

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