Thursday, May 3, 2012

My favorite soup. Ever.

I use to think I didn't like soup, until I started making my own. Then I realized that I love soup, I just don't like canned soup! It was such a revelation! Canned soup, there's something about it, the way it tastes, perhaps from sitting in a metal can for who knows how long that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Not this soup. This soup is one of my favorites. It combines some of my favorite things, cumin, cheese, and garlic, all in a hearty tomato-based broth, to be scooped onto tortillas or spoons.

The creation of the soup came from something similar I had at friend's house. Have you ever eaten something either at a restaurant or at someone's home and immediately thought of all the ways you could make it better? No? Just me? Thought so!

Anyways, like I said, I had something similar and immediately thought of 50 ways I could make the soup better. So I did. The very next day. I didn't invite those friends over for dinner that night.

It took me a few tries, but once my roommate told me that I really nailed it this time, I knew I had reached my goal. The soup was finally the better I was seeking! I've continued to tinker with it slightly as the years have gone by, but ultimately it hasn't changed much. It's taken me a long time to finally get the recipe written down. When a recipe starts from a loose idea and evolves from there it's hard to figure out what it is you do. When I moved out and my roommate asked for the recipe I was seriously stuck. Um, wait, what do I put in the soup? Well, I'm uhh, really not sure... I had to actually sit down and think through each step, to make sure I didn't miss something vital. This soup is just an extension of me. I don't have a recipe, I just make it. Finally, I wrote it down. So now, without further ado, here it is!

Clarissa's Mexican Soup
Serves 6-8


1 split chicken breast, skin on
1 15oz can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 28oz can Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes
2 cups low-sodium Chicken Broth
1 medium Red Bell Pepper, cut into small strips or a small dice
1 medium Onion, cut into small strips or a small dice
3 Garlic cloves, minced
2 small Carrots, small dice
1 cup Frozen Corn
2 palm-full's Cumin
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper flakes
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
~ In a large soup pot heat a teaspoon or so of oil on medium heat. Heavily salt and pepper the chicken and place skin side down in the pot. While the chicken browns and the fat renders off cut up the onions, garlic, and red pepper. Add veggies to the pot. Let everything get a little color.  

~ Once the chicken has browned add a small amount of chicken broth and deglaze the pan. Then add the tomatoes and remaining chicken broth, as well as the carrots. Add the cumin and red pepper flakes. The soup should be thicker than a normal soup. Place the lid on top and let the chicken cook, about 15-20 minutes.
I've tried to measure the cumin, but somehow I always end up short. So, use I do really mean 2 large palm-fulls of cumin and not a drop less!
~ Once the chicken is cooked, remove from pot, and place to the side to allow too cool slightly. Add corn and beans and sugar.
I know what you're thinking: SUGAR??? Are you crazy? Well, I think I have established that by now. BUT, yes, you do really need sugar. Just a smidge. It helps take the edge off the acidity of the tomatoes. Trust me on this!
~ While the corn and beans warm through, carefully, because the chicken is still really hot, remove the skin and remove meat from the bone. Cut into a small dice and add back to the pot.

~ Taste soup. It might need more cumin or garlic or red pepper flakes. Mine usually does. Again, the soup should be on the thick and hearty side, but if you feel it needs more chicken broth or you like it thinner add more broth.

~ Eat!

I like to top this soup with sharp cheddar cheese and Greek yogurt and served alongside tortilla chips.
  1. You can use any type of chicken you happen to have on hand. I have made this several different ways with whatever random, lonely looking chicken I find in the freezer, with leftover chicken, or a rotisserie chicken. I will say, after trying all these ways, I do still prefer using the one split skin on chicken breast, I think it adds the most flavor.
  2. You can also use whatever type of canned tomatoes you have on hand. Diced would be fine. So would tomatoes with basil, garlic, or diced green chilies. Use what you have or what you like. I don't like diced tomatoes so I don't use them, but you if you do, go for it!
  3. Sometimes I top with avocado. Sometimes I everything in sight with avocado. I may have a problem.
  4. When re-heating the soup it may need a splash of broth or water to thin it back out. Makes a great lunch the next day!


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