Not too shabby for leftovers, huh?
A month or so ago, I blogged about making Roast Chicken and homemade Chicken Stock. Today, I give you my personal favorite way to use the leftover chicken and the stock: Mexican Chicken Soup. This recipe has evolved over the years. Each time I order chicken soup at Mexican restaurants, I come home with another idea of how to improve my own recipe. The idea of squeezing a lime over soup really pushed my inherent German buttons. Cilantro and Mexican oregano have made a home in my garden, refrigerator and spice cupboard.
The beauty of a recipe that has evolved is that it is flexible. Each time I make it, it turns out a little different:
- more tomatoes or more broth
- black beans or pinto beans or no beans
- spicy or mild
- rice, no rice or flavored rice
Different … but always good!
Adapt this soup any way you want. Just remember to write down what change along the way. You’ll save yourself a lot of frustration when you try to make it “just like you did last time.” Speaking from experience here.
Mexican Chicken Soup
1 quart chicken stock/broth
1 quart canned tomatoes (or 2 15-0z cans petite diced tomatoes)
2-3 cups diced, cooked chicken
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1 4-oz can diced chiles
1 cup salsa (personal preferences below)
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (optional)
1 teaspoon dried cilantro (optional)
1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic (or 1 clove of garlic, minced)
1 15-oz can black or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen or canned corn
Salt to taste
Fresh Lime Wedges
Combine all ingredients through and including garlic in a stock pot or Dutch oven that will hold at least 4 quarts. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender. Add beans and corn and continue to simmer 5 more minutes. Taste soup and add salt, a half teaspoon at a time if needed. Remove bay leaf and discard.
Serve soup over rice (optional). Squeeze a lime over the soup and sprinkle with fresh cilantro.
This recipe will make about 3 quarts of soup.
El Pato Salsa: The salsa in the picture on the left is a new find. Instead of rushing through the Hispanic foods section at my grocery store and throwing in my cart what I always get, I took a little extra time to examine my options. I bought a few options that looked interesting and discovered this little gem. It’s not too spicy and it really brought balance to the broth of my soup.
Sazón Goya: When I make rice to go with this soup, I typically make plain white rice with chicken broth and maybe a little Mexican oregano, garlic and a bay leaf. When I found the El Pato Salsa, I also found the Sazón Goya seasoning packets: a very mild mix of cumin, coriander and garlic with a beautiful yellow-orange tint. I added one packet (one teaspoon) to the rice while it cooked and it was delicious! As I looked more closely at this product I realized that it’s first ingredient is monosodium glutamate (MSG) and the beautiful coloring was due to artificial color ingredients. I don’t get overly concerned about these things but I don’t like to add them to my recipes absentmindedly either.
Bijol: The color and flavor reminded me of another seasoning my aunt and cousins from Miami introduced to me when they made Arroz con Pollo: Bijol (also pictured). It gives the same flavors and colors but without the MSG. I have also learned that only a 1/8-1/4 teaspoon is needed per cup of uncooked rice so the amount of artificial coloring per serving is greatly reduced.
Mexican Oregano: This is different from the oregano typically used for Italian or Mediterranean cooking. It is different enough that I would not substitute one for the other. If you don’t have access to Mexican oregano, I would omit this ingredient completely. It is worth adding to your herb collection. If you can’t find it in your grocery stores, you can order it online from stores like Penzeys Spices.
And one more …
Cilantro: People seem to either LOVE or HATE fresh cilantro. People in my house either LOVE (me) or HATE (everyone else) fresh cilantro. Therefore, it has the great honor in our house of being a garnish. It is important to note that there is a BIG difference between fresh and dried cilantro. I can add dried cilantro to my recipes and the flavor is much more subtle. So if you do not like fresh cilantro, I would encourage you to try dried.
Well … this has turned into quite the lengthy post on Mexican Chicken Soup, but it deserves it! ¡Buen Provecho!
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