Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chicken (minus the tortilla) Soup

Well, in my last post I promised recipes for yummy soups, and I've been pretty delinquent. There's been plenty of cooking going on in the Maxwell house, just not much time for writing about it! I thought it was finally time to get back on here and tell you about the first soup.

Chicken tortilla soup. Not usually one of my favs, but it sounded good enough to give it a try, and I'm so glad I did! The cheese sauce added in at the end really put this soup over the edge. It kind of reminded me of a chicken enchilada...ya know, only in soup form. Oh, and the title, I don't like tortilla chips in my soup, hence the "minus", but feel free to add them if your little heart desires.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
from Soup Addict

Yield: 4-6 servings


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 serrano, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 15 ounce can tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound cooked chicken, shredded (if you made your own broth, you've got chicken, if not, a rotisserie chicken would work great)
*Original recipe called for only 1/2 a jalapeno. I like a little heat so I added in a whole one. Add to taste.
    Cheese Sauce:
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 2 tablespoons flour
    • 1 cup heavy cream (1/2 and 1/2 or milk if you're feeling less indulgent)
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
    • 8 ounces cheese grated (I was able to find a jalapeno Jack cheese, any type of spicy cheese would be great)


    • Heat oil and butter in a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté onions, celery and garlic until soft.
    • Add a splash of chicken stock, and then the red bell, serrano and jalapeno peppers. Cook for 2-3 minutes to soften.
    • Add all of the spices (salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, sugar, chili powder), and stir until fragrant.
    • Add the remaining chicken stock, tomato puree and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well and bring to boil.
    • Add chicken, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or longer, the longer the better!
    Cheese Sauce:

    • Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. Stir in flour to create a paste.
    • Slowly add the dairy, stirring constantly, until a thick, creamy sauce is formed. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Add grated cheese and stir to completely incorporate into the sauce.
    • Add cheese sauce to the soup, stirring to mix well. The soup should now be creamy, but not necessarily spoon-hugging thick.
    Time to eat! I could not stop taste testing this after I made it. I made it on a Sunday night to have for lunch all week, but liked it so much I ended up having it for dinner that very night. Top with sour cream, tortilla chips and/or cilantro. Enjoy!

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Homemade Chicken Stock

    When the temperatures start dropping outside, I start thinking about warm comforting foods. While I would usually pick baking over cooking any day, I love cooking in the fall and winter months. I would much rather prepare a hearty beef stew, steaming bowl of chili or a filling lasagna over a salad any day. Don't get me wrong, I like light spring/summer foods, I just don't find them as fun to prepare.

    Added to the list of good comfort foods I enjoy would definitely be soup. In the sake of being completely honest here, I must confess, until this year, I always bought my soup in a can. It was easy, seemed inexpensive and well, it's just what I had always done. When Nick and I were making the menu for last week, I was trying to think of different things to have for lunch. I was tired of making sandwiches, and it was cold, I wanted something warm. When he said, "Buy some soup", I think I responded with a snort. I was tired of unsatisfying soup from a can. And that's when it happened. I decided this would be the season of the soups. Homemade soups. The plan is this: to make a big batch of soup every Sunday evening that I will be able to eat on all week long! I'm two weeks in and so far I'm loving it! But before we get to the yummy soups that have been coming out of the Maxwell kitchen, we have to start at the beginning.

    So many soups have a base of chicken stock, so it only makes sense that if you want a delicious end result, that you need to start with something delicious. Enter the homemade chicken stock. So much more flavor without all the salt. And it's also much more cost effective!

    A shot of my stock chilling in the fridge.

    Here's the ingredients needed...we're talking basics here.

    And if you can score an organic chicken that's been marked down...even better! This may be the easiest thing I've ever made in my kitchen.

    Homemade Chicken Stock
    adapted from Tyler Florence

    Yield: About 12 cups

    • 1 whole chicken, 3 1/2 - 4 pounds, rinsed, giblets removed
    • 2 carrots, cut in large chunks
    • 3 celery stalks, cut in large chunks
    • 2 large white onions, quartered
    • 1 head of garlic, halved
    • 1/4 bunch fresh thyme
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

    • Place the chicken and vegetables in a large stock pot. Cover with enough cold water so that the chicken is just covered, too much and the stock will be weak. Place over medium heat.
    • Add the thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns and allow it to slowly come to a boil.
    • Lower the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, or until chicken is done. Add more water during this process if it is needed to keep chicken covered.
    • Carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board. Once cooled, remove skin and bones and shred meat for future use.
    • Strain the stock through a sieve into another pot to remove vegetables and herbs.
    • At this point you can use the stock immediately, or cool and store in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for longer storage.
    Seriously kids, it doesn't get much easier than that. And I promise, it's oh so worth it! Next up, some great soups worthy of this liquid gold!