It’s that time of the year again- the transition from winter into spring, meaning cold and flu season, and the start of my seasonal allergies. I love the flowers, but that pollen can be relentless when it comes to my sensitive nostrils! Lily and I seem to be passing a head cold back-and-forth and currently I am experiencing the brunt of the symptoms. Sneezing, stuffy nose, sore throat, stuffy head, bodyaches- I have it all. So, yesterday I was thinking: “chicken soup for dinner, yum!”
But, I didn’t want just any chicken soup, I wanted something hearty and zesty as well. And I didn’t want to have to go out shopping for any additional ingredients. After searching through a few Southwestern-style chicken soup recipes on good ol’ google, I didn’t find any that really made me go “ooo” except for a good one by Alton Brown that I didn’t have all the ingredients for. So, I raided my fridge and pantry and below is the soup I came up with.
Creamy Southwestern-style Chicken and Vegetable Soup
3 cups water
3 cups low-fat chicken stock
½ lb chicken tenders or breast
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium Yukon gold potato, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup light cream
½ cup onion, chopped
¼ cup cooked black beans
¼ cup frozen corn kernels
¼ cup sofrito*
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 bay leaf
Chopped fresh cilantro for topping
Start by boiling the chicken. While you are waiting for that, you can go ahead and chop all the vegetables like I did. Once the chicken is all white instead of pink, drain it and rinse with cold water until you are able to handle it with your hands. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot for about a minute, then add the onion and garlic. Let it fry for about 2 minutes, then add the sofrito, bay leaf and all seasonings except cilantro and cook stirring until most of the liquid is gone. Add the chicken by tearing it into shredded pieces then tossing it in and stir into the soup base you have created so it is covered, then add the water and chicken broth.
Heat until the broth boils then add the potato and carrots. Cook until they are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the beans, corn and cream and cook for another 5 minutes, then you can taste the broth and add additional seasonings if you like. I added a few more shakes of everything at this point, so know that the measurements I gave above are just guidelines. Once the broth tastes to your liking and all ingredients are cooked, go ahead and serve it up with as much cilantro on top as you want (I like to put a lot in mine!). Makes 4-6 servings.
*For the gringos who may not know what sofrito is, it’s a tomato-based Latin food base mainly used in soups, stews and meat dishes. You can make your own by searching for it on the internet (I recommend this one) or just buy one by Goya like I did, they carry it at just about every grocery store. I use it in a lot of dishes and most Latin recipes, it’s really good, especially with beans and chicken.
Now since this recipe was totally made up by me last night, you should be aware that it is completely alterable to your liking. For instance, Paul suggested I add rice to it next time. Some ingredients that I may have used had they been in my kitchen are tomatoes, red peppers, green chilies and avocado. It could even be topped with cheese, but of course that would add more fat and this is a low-fat recipe. You could also use heavy cream or sour cream instead of light cream, but that would also make it more fattening and I assure you, this soup was quite tasty without the extra calories.
Lily also had a similar meal of
2 tbsp cooked black beans
2 tbsp shredded Mexican mix cheese
2 tbsp cooked whole-wheat pasta
That can all be blended if your little one is still spoon-fed. Lily prefers finger foods only now, although I can still get her to eat some applesauce or yogurt if she’s in the right mood.
So, although the cream may have not been the best for my phlegm, the spices did get my stuffed up nose running (TMI?), so I think this soup was a success. Plus, Paul liked it and he can be picky :)