spicy tortilla soup

soup.jpg

After a day out in the cold, there’s nothing quite like a hot bowl of soup to warm up even the chilliest winter-enthusiast. This spicy soup is a favourite year-round, but it’s that much more satisfying to have on a snowy day. It is well-seasoned and hearty. Doesn’t get much better.

For this meal, I used two medium sized pots to cook all of the soup, but 1 large soup pot is ideal*.

This recipe is based on Harvest Chicken Tortilla Soup from TasteFood.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
2 chicken breasts
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper
1 sweet red pepper, stemmed and seeded, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, medium-fine chopped
1 pinch red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 zucchini, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
6 cups chicken stock
1 – 28 oz can Italian plum tomatoes, with juice
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp cloves
2  1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1 cup canned peaches and cream corn kernels
1 cup canned black beans
1-2 teaspoons salt, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
tortilla chips, broken in pieces (garnish)
grated cheddar or monterey jack (garnish)
Astro Balkan Style yogourt (garnish)
sliced avocado (garnish)

To start, create a quick dry rub for the chicken with 1/4 tsp of the ancho, 1/2 tsp of the chili powder, a generous dash of each salt & pepper. Once the chicken breasts are seasoned, heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in your soup pot (in my case, i used one of my two  medium seized cast-alluminum dutch ovens*), then sear the chicken until it is cooked through and you get a nice dark crust on the outer layer of chicken. Set aside.
chicken
Using the oil and juices from the chicken, add your chopped onion to the pot, and pour in the remaining tbsp of oil.
onions
Once onions become slightly translucent (about 2-3 minutes), add all of the peppers and sauté with the pinch of red pepper flakes (2 minutes).
peppers
Stir in the garlic and zucchini. After a minute, add chicken broth, canned plum tomatoes with their juices, tomato paste, cumin, Italian seasoning, cloves, remaining chili powder and remaining ancho chili powder. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for 20-25 minutes.I ended up fishing out the cloves with a slotted spoon at this point, because i don’t like getting an unexpected bite of this powerful spice while having my meal. Putting the cloves in a piece of cheesecloth and tying it off would also do the trick, and could stay in the soup until the meal is ready to be served.
soup
Chop up the cooked chicken into small bite-sized pieces, and add to the soup with the beans and corn. Toss in most of the cilantro, reserving some for garnish, and stir.
Per serving, add about 1/2 tbsp of cheese, followed by a dollop of yogourt, broken tortilla chips, and cilantro. When I have made this in the past, I have also topped the soup with sliced fresh avocado. Unfortunately I didn’t have any on hand this time around, but it is a great addition. Do not skip the garnish for this meal. The garnishes aren’t just there for decoration; the chips offer a crunchy texture, while the cheese, yogourt, and avocado help to cool some of the spice. Oh, and cilantro just tastes great, so bring it on.
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