Here’s a soup that pleases crowds. Everyone in our family makes and serves this soup and everyone, from little kids to (occasionally) grumpy grandpas, loves it. A fairly long list of ingredients, but it’s a soup easily concocted, and easy to double or triple when entertaining bigger groups. If a soup can be casual and fun, this one is.
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Chicken Tortilla Soup
- four 6-inch corn tortillas
- about 2 teaspoons olive oil (to brush on tortillas) + 1 Tablespoon (to sauté vegetables with)
- 2 – 14 ounce cans low sodium chicken broth (or 28 ounces of your very own!)
- 2 cups water
- 1 -14.5 ounce can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes with juice (or see photo for alternative)
- 1 small can of green chiles, chopped (mild)
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can cream of corn (the only time I ever use this stuff!)
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1⁄8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ large yellow onion, chopped (1½ cups)
- ½ red pepper, chopped (about ½ cup)
- 2 generous Tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 12 ounces chicken breast meat (from a grilled, roasted or rotisseried chicken) (see NOTE)
- 2 green onions, sliced
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
(NOTE on the chicken: If you use an home-done oven-roasted chicken, save the juices from the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate and remove the fat from the top, and incorporate the tasty juices into your soup.)
- sour cream
- tortilla chips (Tostito lime chips are great here!)
- grated cheddar cheese
- sliced or chunked avocado
- a drizzle of hot sauce of your choice – or a sprinkle of the seasoning blend of your choice (like the fabulous “Uncle Jim’s Secret Spice” – if you’re lucky enough to be Jim’s sister)
(Please imagine shredded cheddar on the bowl below. Sadly, I forgot to add it before I grabbed my camera, so anxious to lift the spoon, I was!)
If you wanted to add rice, or zucchini, green beans, mushrooms, or a little sweet potato, you could customize this soup entirely to suit your tastes. Didn’t I tell you it was fun?
My daughter Ali is an enthusiastic, aproned artist in the kitchen, and is all about putting love on the table. She called the other day to say that while at play she’d created a salad she thought I’d like. I’ve been impatiently waiting for my appetite to return because (even while sick) the sounds of this salad set off sweet harmonies and the songs of birds in my head! : ) Last night I was finally able to make it, and once again, the birds did sing!
Ali’s Champange Summer Salad with Chicken, Peaches and Avocado
(serves 4 generously)
- 2 quarts (8 cups) salad greens – (a salad mix, with some of the spicier, more peppery greens is great – or arugula)
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cooked and sliced (see preparation options below)
- 2 firm-ripe peaches, medium-thinly sliced
- 1 avocado, cut in chunks or thinly sliced
- 5 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 cup pepitas (optional)
- 1 – 2 Tablespoons Lemon Verbena minced (very optional, but wonderful if you have it)
Champagne Vinaigrette Ingredients
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoon sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup champagne vinegar
- 1-1/2 cups canola oil
Options for the Chicken
- Quick & Easy – Preheat oven to 350°F. Place breasts on rimmed cookie sheet lined with foil or parchment paper for easy cleanup. Brush both sides of chicken with olive oil and generously sprinkle with coarse salt and a little pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes (depending on size and thickness, or until chicken registers 160°F on and instant-read thermometer.) Allow chicken to cool to room temperature. Just before combining with other ingredients, slice diagonally across the grain in 1/2-inch slices.
- Slow & Scrumptious – Marinating the chicken before cooking using the following marinade (good also for shrimp or any white fish) and then preparing in the oven or on the grill will add more juicy flavor to your chicken.
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 t. dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1 t. kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
Combine all marinade ingredients in a gallon-size zipped plastic bag. Pound chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic until uniform thickness, around 1/2-inch. Marinate refrigerated for 4 to 24 hours. (Even after several hours, there is plenty of good flavor.) Grill or cook using any method you prefer until internal temperature reaches 160°F. (See #1.)
This makes a LOT of dressing, and you certainly won’t need it all for this salad. But it IS very delicious and if you look, you’ll have no trouble finding other places to use it during the next week or so. (Virtually any combination of greens and fresh summer fruits would likely do very well dressed in this. That being said, you could easily halve this recipe and still have leftovers.) This could well be a dressing you’ll go to again and again. ( It can keep quite well for a week or so refrigerated.)
In a medium bowl combine all ingredients except the oil. Using a whisk, gradually add the oil in a thin, steady stream until creamy.
One simple salad I simply love has little slivers of bright and tartly fragrant kumquats in it. Have you never tried a kumquat? You should!
Green Salad with Kumquats, Avocado and Pistacios
- Mesclun, mixed spring greens, or baby spinach (or lettuce of your choice)
- Kumquats (see NOTE)
- Dressing – Cilantro-Lime Salad Dressing (in my post Cilantro-Lime Salad, today’s date.)
(You’ll notice that for green salads I don’t list quantities. Only you know how much you or those at your table will eat at one meal.)
Remove your pistacios from the shell. Chop them coarsely, or leave them whole, as you choose. (Or toss some whole ones in, and save the chopped ones for scattering over top.)
Wash and dry your lettuce.
Wash your kumquats, and slice them crosswise, as thinly as possible, removing the seeds as you go. (Yes, you DO eat the peel! In fact it’s all about the peel. Kumquats have been called the inside-out fruit – all the sweetness in the peel, the sour in the flesh.) For a salad feeding two, I use about a handful of kumquats.
Slice or chunk your avocado.
Combine your lettuce, the avocado, and kumquats in a salad bowl. Dress lightly with Cilantro-Lime dressing. Scatter with pistacios and serve.
NOTE: If you’re undecided on whether to try kumquats, I understand your hesitation, but maybe this will help: they’re little ovoids, somewhat smaller than a pecan; they manage somehow to be both hinting of sweet and smacking of tart; they smell vaguely like a daphne blossom, which is, if you didn’t know, heavenly; and they’re highly cute. What more could you ask for in a tiny fruit?
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