Saturday, September 10, 2011

Recipe #6: Ms. Shelia's Chicken Taco Soup

I got the original recipe from a cook that worked at the school. However, it is much changed in the version below. When we first made it, we were learning our preferences for soups and chilis. I found this an easy recipe to adjust flavor wise. I am going to post the recipe for the cheaters version, then list my liner notes for my "super homemade version."

1 box of chicken broth
1 can each: light kidney beans, dark kidney beans, pinto beans
1 large can chicken
1 29 oz can tomato sauce
1 can of corn optional

1 tbls onion flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tbls chili powder
1 tbls basil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika

Drain and rinse beans. Drain chicken and corn. Put in pot with broth and tomato sauce. Add spices. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.  Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips. Serves 8-ish. Depends on how much they eat.

Now for the super homemade version has several steps that you can take or leave depending on your commitment level for the evening- as well as how stocked your freezer is.

*I usually start the beans from scratch- as in from dry beans. (I will often use a variety of kidney beans, pintos, black beans, and/or navy. Most cook in the exact same way- and I never soak them overnight, opting instead for the "fast cook" method. Instructions are listed on the bags.) After the first soaking, when the "real" cooking begins I will add the chicken stock with some water. At this moment, I might choose to add 2 quarts of stock instead of one depending on how overboard I went with the beans. The beans will also affect the cooking time- because the soup isn't ready until the beans are tender
*I use a rotisserie chicken instead of canned (baked chicken breast works just as well- even left over baked chicken). I also save it until the beans are almost tender so that it doesn't get over worked in the soup.
*I use homemade chicken stock from the freezer (usually a quart- and made from the carcass of the rotisserie chicken)
*I use tomatoes that we have frozen from the summer time (again, a quart-thawed and well pureed, because I do not do chunks.) Fresh tomatoes from the grocery store will work as well- and might even benefit from being roasted in the oven first.
*I have to double or triple the seasoning to taste. I find a real onion to be a bit overpowering in this soup, so I tend to stick with flakes- I will substitute minced garlic cloves for the powder. If I have basil frozen in the freezer, I will use it instead of dry.
*Depending on what we have on hand and how full the pot is, I might add a bag of frozen corn, fresh bell peppers, etc. The recipe is not static and can be adjusted with ease. Think about what you like.

Making it this way results in dinner for us, a quart for Jesse's family, 3 or 4 quarts to freeze, several lunches for Jesse, and, possibly, left overs another night. It freezes beautifully and reheats well on the stove. The next time I make this, I am going to roast the garlic as well as a real onion in the oven and puree them with the tomatoes to see how that affects the flavor of the soup.

I hope this recipe finds its way into your repertoire for the cool weather of Autumn.

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