Monday, January 9, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

*(Download the app "Tortilla Soup Surfer"...see story at bottom of this blog :)

When I made this big pot of soup, I served Peter a hot bowl and then ladled myself a bowl to photograph for this blog. I took my photo, but when I came back to sit with him he was already slurping up his last little bit! He headed over to the stove to fill his bowl again, and was quite excited to see that there was such a big pot for more servings. Needless to say, I think I scored points with him tonight :)

For the new year, Peter's work is offering a new company wellness campaign. Now Peter is actually going out of his way to count how many cups of fruits and veggies he is eating daily!!! I am so stoked- I have our produce bowls FULL of options for him :) In addition to being SO delicious, this tortilla soup has got a ton of good veggies for you too! It is definitely 'new year resolution approved' :)

I have been dying to make Chicken Tortilla Soup soup lately and this soup was absolutely what I was hoping it would be. It was so satisfying. This soup has it all; it's substantial yet light... it has got the hardy nutrition in all of it's ingredients yet it's all steeped in a light broth. Even though it's perfect to warm up with soup in the wintertime, this one would be appropriate no matter the season or the weather since it includes lots of refreshing elements as well. Lime juice, cilantro, and sweet corn inside the soup offer a light complement to the hardiness of the meat and beans, while the avocado, onion, and other toppings add additional coolness to contrast the warmth of the mexican flavors.

Ingredients (yields 5 big bowls):
  • 1 Onion, diced 
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon minced Garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 4 Chicken Breasts (or about 3 cups shredded from a whole chicken)
  • 6 cups low sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 can Diced Tomatoes with Jalapenos, NOT drained
  • 4 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1 can low sodium whole kernel Corn, drained
  • 1 can low sodium Black Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup Cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup Lime Juice
  • 5 corn tortillas, cut into little strips
  • Olive Oil
  • 3 teaspoons Mexican Seasoning (you can use my seasoning blend *(see below), or a Taco Seasoning Packet, or just plain Chili Powder or WHATEVER Mexican seasoning you like) 
Topping Ideas: 
  • Chopped Cilantro, Diced Avocado, Diced Tomatoes, Shredded Cheddar Cheese, Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese, Queso Fresco, Sour Cream (or NF Plain Greek Yogurt), Lime Wedges, Diced Red Onion, Crumbled Tortilla Chips
*My Mexican Seasoning Blend: 1 Tbsp Chili Powder, 1/4 tsp McCormicks Seasoning Salt, 1 tsp Garlic Powder, 1 tsp Paprika, 1 tsp Cumin, 1/2 tsp Onion Powder, 1/8 tsp *Cayenne (*optional if you don't like spicy) 
...this will make enough for this recipe, plus some leftovers to use for tacos or for the next time you make this tortilla soup

(If you are using a whole cooked or rotisserie chicken, you can disregard this step and skip straight to sautéing the veggies).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place chicken breasts in a resealable plastic bag with a healthy drizzle of olive oil- seal bag and work with hands to coat chicken with oil. Use tongs to place chicken breasts out on a foil-covered baking pan. Sprinkle tops with 1 tsp seasoning. Bake 10 minutes, then flip chickens and sprinkle other side with 1 tsp seasoning- return to oven for another 10 minutes or until cooked through. Shred chicken with 2 forks- pulling with the grain of the chicken fibers.

Sauté Veggies: 
Heat some oil in a large pot over medium heat to sauté the onion, bell pepper and garlic until onion is translucent and slightly browned (about 5 minutes or so). Then add 1 tsp of seasoning, continue to sauté for another minute or so.

Add the seasoned shredded chicken breasts (or 1-2 tsps seasoning with shredded chicken from a whole cooked chicken). Stir together in pot.

Add 6 cups chicken broth, one can of tomatoes w/ jalapenos (plus all liquid from can), tomato paste, drained corn, and drained black beans. Stir and allow to simmer over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.

After your soup has simmered. Turn off heat, stir in the lime juice, cilantro, and tortilla strips.

Serve hot

And don't forget the toppings! 

The avocado adds a cool creaminess -both in texture and flavor- that is superb with the warmth of other flavors in this soup. A topping of cilantro adds a sharp freshness. A dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt could also add some coolness to compliment this soup and could be stirred in with some cheese to make your bowl creamier and thicker if desired. Red onion would also add some fresh crispness, and crumbled crunchy tortilla chips are an absolute must!

'Tortilla Soup Surfer' story: 
I'm sure every boy who plays video games has dreamed up his own game. Well our friend, Trevor, actually got that dream to come to life. He works for a creative design & development company called 'JLoop'.  Recently, JLoop decided to develop their employee's dream into a real game. Trevor's game is called "Tortilla Soup Surfer". Search for it in the app store of your smartphone or iPad/tablet. The object of the game is for you to help the veggie 'surfers' in the bowl of tortilla soup to score as many points as possible before they have to escape from the bowl... or else they are slurped up for dinner!  :)

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