Wednesday, October 27, 2010

For the Love of Chicken Tortilla Soup

Yesterday, half way through my doubly cream-cheesed bagel, it happened. That ominous knowledge I keep hidden in the back of my mind that always threatens to expose itself in the middle of my gluttonous bites of anything delicious and unhealthy, reared its truth-telling head and broke through the barriers I’ve built of salt and fat and taste. Like an atom bomb, it exploded into my thoughts, demolishing my memories of anything wonderfully indulgent and replacing them with that noxious feeling of extreme guilt. It was in this moment, mid-bite, that I realized I’ve been a fatty lately and I need to whip myself into shape.

And of course, aside from upping the activity level, which will be easy since my exercising self has been dormant for quite some time, a huge part of getting healthy is eating right. It’s difficult to do so on a budget, with pasta and all those other edible starchy minxes coaxing me with their promises of satiation  and frugality. Which is why, when I find a healthy, inexpensive and honestly delicious meal, I always want to share the love.

So, I promise that this tortilla soup recipe is going to be easy on your wallet, full of flavor and really filling meal in itself!

You’ll need:

Olive Oil for sauteeing
1 onion, chopped
1 small shallot, chopped (optional)
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ red bell pepper, chopped
½ green chili, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 ripe avocado, sliced
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped very fine
1 can of black beans (16 oz)
1 small can of green chilies
6 chicken tenderloins or 2 chicken breasts, cubed
3 cups of chicken stock
2 cups of water
1 can of diced tomatoes (16 oz)
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 tablespoons of chili powder
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of salt
Shredded cheddar or jack cheese (for topping)
Tortilla chips (for topping)

Boil the chicken for 5-7 minutes, then drain and shred.

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat and cook the onions, shallots, and garlic until they’re soft. Add water, broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, beans, chicken and spices. Bring to a boil, then turn to simmer for 7-10 minutes. Add the cilantro, green chilies (fresh and canned), red peppers, salt and jalapenos. Bring that back up to a boil for 10 minutes, then turn back down to a simmer for 15. All the while, keep giving the soup a good stir fairly often.

Prep your bowls with a few tortilla chips on the bottom and then ladle the soup into the bowls, top with cheese, avocado slices and a couple more tortilla chips. Then, enjoy the spicy, heartiness of this healthy soup! It’ll make about 6-8 bowls and is freezable.

As an option, you can always fry up your own tortillas (less healthy/more salty, fried goodness). Just take corn or flour tortillas from the store and cut them up into strips. Heat canola oil over medium-high heat and drop them in - watch them though, they'll cook quick. You'll want to get them a nice brown each side, turning with a metal slated spoon. Then, dry them over paper towels and salt 'em up! Just watch out... if you make these and leave them out on the counter while you're cooking, you may by accident eat half the batch...

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