Mexican Chicken Soup
Not too shabby for leftovers, huh?
A while back, 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 the changes you make 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 tablespoon vegetable or avocado oil
- 1 cup thinly sliced carrots
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1/2 cup diced green pepper
- 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 salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 4-oz can diced green chiles
- 1 cup salsa
- 1 quart canned tomatoes or 2 15-oz cans petite diced tomatoes
- 1 quart chicken stock/broth
- 2-3 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken
- 1 15-oz can black or pinto beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup frozen or canned corn
- additional salt to taste
- Cooked Rice
- Fresh Lime Wedges
- Fresh cilantro
- In a large stock pot or dutch oven, sauté carrots, onions, and peppers in vegetable/avocado oil for 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in Mexican oregano, cilantro, cumin, coriander, bay leaf, salt, black pepper and garlic.
- Sauté for 2-3 minutes (until spices are fragrant).
- Add green chiles, salsa and tomatoes; simmer for 5-6 minutes.
- Add broth and chicken 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 with a squeeze a lime, a sprinkle of fresh cilantro and a few cubes or slices of avocado.
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.
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.
Cooked Chicken: A rotisserie chicken is a wonderful shortcut for this recipe. Just make sure, at least once in a while, to make a batch of homemade broth from the bones and whatever you would normally throw away. It is amazing!
Guacamole: The best side dishes for this soup are tortilla chips and guacamole.
Margaritas: Enough said.