It’s been a crazy cold winter around here. My defense against the daily chill has been layering sweaters and cooking lots of soup.
To keep my soup slurping interesting, I made an excellent Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe that was posted on the University of New Hampshire’s Healthy Services page (for some reason they have removed all the recipes from the site).
The original recipe calls for cooking the soup low and slow to build flavor but I wasn’t willing to wait an hour for it to cook. To reduce the cooking time to 15 minutes, I took advantage of a few flavor boosting opportunities while preparing the chicken.
This tip hit home for me when I had the opportunity to be a judge at a local “Iron Chef” style food competition. One of the teenage contestants had some serious cooking skills but in his rush to complete three dishes in 60 minutes he forgot to season his meat dish and unfortunately it tasted bland. Now when I cook, the experience reminds me to season as Chef Jose suggests. For this soup, a light sprinkle of salt and black pepper on both sides of the chicken is all it takes to ensure it won’t taste dull.
Even though the original recipe doesn’t call for browning the chicken in the skillet it’s a sure-fire way to add another element of oomph to this soup!
Instead of cutting the chicken into strips (as per the original recipe), half and season each chicken breast on both sides. Then cook in the pan over medium heat until golden brown on the outside but not fully cooked through on the inside – 3 minutes per side (no peeking). The seasoning, golden brown chicken and browned bits at the bottom of the pan are all flavor boosters waiting to meld into the broth!
To finish cooking the chicken, submerge the partially cooked halves in the broth, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes.
Once the chicken halves are cooked through, fish them out of the broth, slice into strips and stir all that good lookin’ chicken back in!
Since we added flavor along the way we can skip the hour of cooking and enjoy this Tex-Mex style soup right away! And if you have tortilla chips you’ll definitely want to serve this soup on top of them – eating it like nachos is the best! If these cold temperatures linger into March, I can see this recipe becoming a regular in my meal plan rotation!
Thanks for stopping in at the cafe! And, if you like this recipe, please share! Cheers!
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half / $4.15
1 tsp canola oil / $0.04
1 can (28 oz / 786 ml) stewed tomatoes / $1.17
1 cup salsa / $1.20
1 can (4 oz / 127 ml) chopped green chilies / $1.97
1/3 cup chili sauce (Heinz makes a good one) / $1.15
1 can (19 oz / 540 ml) black beans, drained / $1.09
1/2 cup grated cheese / $0.56
tortilla chips / $0.15
- Lightly season both sides of chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chicken. Cook until outside of chicken breast is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook for 3 minutes longer on the other side. Remove chicken from saucepan and set aside.
- Add tomatoes to saucepan. With a wooden spoon, scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the saucepan to incorporate into the liquid. Stir in salsa, chilies, chili sauce and beans. Place browned chicken in the soup and cover. Cook over low heat until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
- Remove pieces of cooked chicken from soup, slice into strips.
- Stir strips of chicken back into the soup.
- To serve, place a handful of chips in a bowl, ladle soup over chips and top with cheese.
adapted from: University of New Hampshire’s Chicken Tortilla Soup