Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Easy, spicy soup

On Thursday each week, my co-worker Shana Hoover sends around an email asking for items for the weekly email newsletter we send to our readers. She wants a list of stories for the next week, and I usually give her the topic of my food column and an arts story.

Most weeks, I can send her a food column topic and a photograph that she can put in the newsletter. But sometimes, I have to really ponder what to tell her. And this particular Thursday last month, I shot back an email: “NO CLUE what my food column will be. Isn’t that sad?”

That’s bad news for me. I get all panicky and stressed if I don’t have food columns lined up and the recipes and photos made about a week in advance. I hate going into a weekend with no food column planned for Wednesday.

Shana offered one of her favorite recipes right then — a chicken tortilla soup she makes in a slow cooker. We didn’t make it for that next week, but I’m sharing it now.

Shana’s recipe is a very simple main dish recipe. If you can operate a can opener and turn on your slow cooker, then you can make this recipe! It’s the kind of dish working families love: one that takes little effort in the morning and is ready when you get home from work.

When my daughter and I walked into Shana’s new home last week to take a photo of the soup, we were greeted with the wonderful aroma of spicy, simmering soup. What a way to come home from a day at the office, huh?

One of the things I like most about this recipe is that you put the uncooked chicken breasts directly into the soup with the other ingredients. No precooking! Shana says she has used both frozen and fresh chicken breasts and had good results with each. At the end of cooking time, she uses a fork to break up the chicken while it’s still in the crock. So easy!

You can certainly tailor this recipe to your taste, using mild, medium or hot salsa and mild or hot Mexican tomatoes.

My daughter, who loves spicy food, really enjoyed this soup and said how good it would be for her lunch at school. We plan to make a recipe and divide it into individual servings we can freeze.

The soup is served with cheese and tortilla chips. Shana said she likes to crumble her tortilla chips directly into the soup.

If you have any left, heat it for leftovers at work the next day, but make sure to take the recipe because your co-workers will want it!

As for me and my column, I’m proud to say I have two recipes and photos complete. Check back next week for something sweet!

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • 3 chicken breast halves (can be fresh or frozen)
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 10-ounce cans Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies, original
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 4-ounce can chopped green chilies
  • 1 14.5 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 14.5 ounce can chicken broth (reduced-fat, reduced-sodium will work fine)
  • Tortilla chips
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Combine all ingredients except chips and cheese in large slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 8 hours. Once cooked, use a fork to break up chicken into bite-size pieces.

Serve with cheese and tortilla chips.

Shana Hoover

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