Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

The first two years of college, I had a meal plan. My school requires us to live on campus dorms as freshmen and sophomores so we had no kitchen to cook our own meals. Scratch that. There is a kitchen in one dorm building, but I really didn't want to use it. My friends and I had dinner parties once in a blue moon and those were the only times I stepped foot in there. Fortunately, our school's cafeteria, or "D-Hall" as we call it, makes decent food. This was before I got into cooking so I got to eat things that I never would have dreamed of making myself. Mexican Wednesdays were my favorite and the baked potato bar and the salad bar and the cereal bar and the ice cream! Oh, and I loved the special dinners for Lunar New Year, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Diwali, etc (though, sophomore year we learned to eat elsewhere for those days because people from town would also eat and there is absolutely nowhere to sit). But my number one? The soups. I had a phase when all I ate was soup. I loved all the soups whether it was Potato Leek, Chili, Chicken Tortilla, French Onion, Broccoli Cheddar. The one exception is the Essence of Exotic Mushroom Soup. I've not tried recreating any of them because, for some odd reason, I felt that it would never turn out the same. But thanks to Foodgawker (my favorite site in the whole world), I found a keeper. This Chicken Tortilla Soup is pretty darn close to D-Hall's version!

Chicken Tortilla SoupChicken Tortilla Soup
Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup [Makes 6 servings]
Adapted from Back to the Cutting Board

- 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
- 20 baby carrots
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
- 1 medium onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 10 oz frozen corn
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 tbsp dried cilantro
- 3 oz feta, crumbled

1. Add tomatoes, carrots and green pepper to a blender or food processor and mix until blended, but still chunky. Set aside.
2. Cook the cubed chicken until it’s completely cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.
3. Remove from pan and place on a plate or cutting board. Using two forks tear apart each piece of chicken until all the chicken is shredded. Set aside.
4. Meanwhile, cook the onions and garlic until translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Put the onions, garlic and chicken in a large stock pot. Add in all the spices and cook over medium heat for one minute.
6. Add in the tomato mixture, chicken broth, water, corn and beans and cilantro. Simmer, partly covered for 60 minutes.
7. Serve with feta crumbles sprinkled on top.

The feta is reeeeeeeeeally great in there, by the way. It tastes even better the next day. I should really be calling this Chicken Bean Soup since there are no tortillas in this recipe, but Chicken Tortilla Soup sounds better. Plus, at D-Hall, tortillas were optional since we put the strips on the soup ourselves. Next time, I will try with one less cup of broth and a little Tabasco sauce? D-Hall had a clean broth with no blended veggies, but I like that so it's staying. You know, I could just ask the chefs for the recipe. But where's the fun in that?

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