Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Heat of the Night

Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup
It was a lovely time up in Seattle seeing old friends and checking out more than one delicious eatery. A quick two-night stay in one of my favorite cities in the world, an evening of watching the Mariners lose spectacularly to the Yankees, and the BEST soy latte I have ever had, and we were on our way back home. It was a nice end-of-summer get-away, but alas, it had to end with a long car trip with a rambunctious terrier. I was ready for a satisfying, light, and easy dinner when we rolled into the driveway. Luckily, inspiration struck, and I came up with this tasty version of "classic" Tex-Mex fare. It really hit the spot for a warm evening and made great use of several pantry and left-over fridge items (ie. the crumbly broken chips at the bottom of the bag and two-thirds of a jar of salsa). I'm definitely going to enjoy the leftovers tomorrow.

- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 1/2 c. jarred medium-heat red salsa
- 1 c. water
- 2 ears of fresh corn, shucked and kernels scraped off and reserved
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 sweet yellow onion, diced
- 1 14.5 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes with green chilies 
- 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. ground cardamom
- salt and pepper
- juice from 1 lime
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2-4 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 qt. chicken broth
- 1 c. crushed tortilla chips
- sour cream, pickled japapeño peppers, and shredded cheese for garnish (optional)

Place chicken breast in a small sauce pan with a lid and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour water and jarred salsa over chicken and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the mixture is brought to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer chicken breast for 30-40 minutes until it has cooked through completely and it begins to soften.

While chicken is simmering, chop and dice other ingredients and begin to prepare the rest of the soup. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium. Add onion and cook until it begins to turn translucent and begins to soften, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add chopped fresh jalapeño pepper. Stir over medium until pepper begins to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add corn, canned tomatoes, chicken broth, cumin, lime juice, and cardamom and stir to combine completely. Bring to a boil.

When broth is boiling, add the chicken breast and all the salsa into the broth mixture and stir to combine. Partially cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer soup for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove lid and using a pair of tongs and a wooden spoon, fish out chunks of chicken and shred using the tongs. By this point, this chicken should be extremely tender and this will be easy to do. Sprinkle soup with chopped cilantro and crushed tortilla chips, cover, and cook and additional 5 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Remove soup from heat and serve in bowls with sliced avocado, a sprinkle of grated cheese (ie. cheddar or pepper jack), a few pickled jalapeño peppers, additional crushed tortilla chips, and a small dollop of sour cream. It's got some heat and tons of flavor! You'll love it.

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