Well summer is long gone and the fall has set in. The days are getting shorter, there’s a crisp chill in the air, the colours of the leaves are stunningly bright and the rain has begun. It’s funny because I always tell people that my favorite season is summer, but the more I think about it, when it comes to cooking a good meal, there’s no better time than the fall. There’s nothing quite like eating a piping hot bowl of home-made soup with a hunk of crusty bread and a good cheese.
Don’t get me wrong, even though I enjoy all the goodness of fall cooking, I do enjoy a warm get-away when the winter gets long… or even when winter hasn’t yet begun, which was the case last year. It was almost a year ago when the warm and sunny destination was Mexico for my friends Sheila and Shawn’s beach wedding in beautiful Puerto Vallarta. The week was packed with meeting friends and family of the bride and groom, early morning yoga on the beach (I don’t even do yoga when I’m at home!), yummy cocktails on the sandy beach, and of course… food, food, food! Needless to say, it was a memorable week and since a trip to Mexico is not in the cards in the near future, when I make this next recipe, it’s almost like I’m there… almost!
Enjoy and happy anniversary Sheila and Shawn.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Makes 6 – 8 servings
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast (or leftover cooked chicken)
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped canned green chilis
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 tbsp tomato paste
4 cups hot water
2-15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp cornmeal
5 whole corn tortillas, cut into uniform strips
Options for garnishes: sour cream, diced avocado, diced red onion, salsa, grated Monterey jack cheese, cilantro.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cumin, chili pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil on chicken breast, then sprinkle a small amount of spice mix on both sides. Set aside the rest of the spice mix. Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Use two forks to shred chicken. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions, red pepper, green pepper, and minced garlic. Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix. Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir.
Pour in tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste, water, and black beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.
Mix cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Check seasonings, adding more if needed—add more chili powder if it needs more spice, and be sure not to under salt. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Five minutes before serving, gently stir in tortilla strips.
Ladle into bowls, then top with sour cream, diced red onion, diced avocado, pico de gallo, and grated cheese, if you have it! (The garnishes really make the soup delicious.)
Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Photography by: Melissa LeBlanc