“Obviously the most important step in eating soup is carrying the bowl into an unexpected part of the house to take a picture.” -James, when I dragged our guests into the hallway to take pictures with better lighting. All for you, dear readers.
In the first couple months I lived in DC we experienced both an earthquake and a hurricane. Both ended up being not too much to write home about, but they were exciting. The day that the hurricane brought heavy rains to town, James and I decided to trek out to the suburbs for games and soup with our friends Susannah and Josue. We took the metro, riding in empty cars as the wind and rain whipped around us, and I contemplated the potential foolishness of our evening out. But as soon as we got to Susannah’s, we started eating this soup and I forgot all about the long wet journey we had taken to get there. Whereas I am not the greatest soup chef around (try, “maybe the worst”), Suze makes amazing soup all the time. She just throws things in and it comes out amazing, while I throw things in and it comes out looking like I cleaned out the fridge in a pot. Which obviously was my only strategy.
In the middle of dinner, James leaned over and whispered to me to get the recipe. People, you do not know how rare this is. My husband is many things, but a foodie is not one of them. He’s learned to love food more since being married to me, but nine times out of ten if I ask what he wants, he will request chicken tortilla soup. Even this is a victory, since I used to ask him for dinner requests and he would just look at me like why would I differentiate between one form of nourishment over the other? Then I started introducing things like kale and goat cheese to his plate and he quickly developed strong preferences, mostly as a survival tactic. He even requests this soup on his birthday, which always meets with a refusal, as his birthday is in August, when no one should be eating soup.
Since Suze first served up this soup, I have colonized it and claimed it as my own, appropriating it as one of the things that I make. I should admit that I am kind of an everyday tyrant constantly making things mine in truly shameful colonial style. James left his scarf here when he was gone for all those months? MINE. Borrowed my friend Rachel’s jacket like five years ago? MINE. The couple library books from various states on my shelf? MINE. Tried this soup and loved it? MINE.
And now? Now it is one of our very favorite cold weather staples. We make massive pots of it, eat of them for a week, and then freeze the rest for another day. This soup is magic, getting better the longer it sits, and it is so easy to make. Most of the work is opening cans and chopping, and you could even cheat on that and buy pre-chopped frozen veggies if you wanted. If so, you would find ABSOLUTELY ZERO JUDGMENT. Be empowered, all ye busy workers. Plus, pepper chopping is an occupational hazard. True story: One time I chopped up all these peppers for this soup and I made the mistake of not washing my hands immediately afterwards. I have the most sensitive skin ever and let’s just say, THIS GIRL WAS ON FIRE. I sat with my dainty hands in a bowl of cream the rest of the afternoon.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Makes one HEFTY pot of soup. We are talking “invite all your people and their people and then you will still have leftovers.”
- two big chicken breasts (or rotisserie chicken) cooked with spicy seasonings and shredded
- 3 bell peppers, diced
- 1 spicier pepper of your choice, diced
- 2 onions, diced
- garlic cloves, diced (or cheat and use the canned diced garlic like yours truly)
- olive oil
- 2 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 15 oz. cans hominy (or corn if you can’t find the miracle that is hominy), drained and rinsed
- 1 15 oz can of corn
- 1 can Rotel tomatoes
- dash cumin
- red pepper flakes to taste
- 2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken stock (+ a little water if soup is too thick)
- crispy tortilla strips
- lime wedges
- sour cream
- Heat a couple TBS olive oil in heavy pot. Sauté onions, peppers, and garlic until soft.
- Add chicken, beans, hominy, corn, Rotel, crushed tomatoes, stock, spices, and a handful of diced cilantro.
- Simmer for at least an hour, but feel free to do what I do and just leave it on the stove all afternoon. Use this time to clean up your kitchen and give the illusion of being the type of cook who has a clean kitchen by the time dinner is ready.
- Serve with cilantro, avocado wedges, tortilla strips, lime wedges for squeezing, sour cream, and cheese.
- Now colonize this recipe and make it your own! Add spices, substitute different veggies, experiment.
What soups are you loving this fall and winter? Share the love!