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Friday, October 18, 2013

Salsa Verde Chicken Tortilla Soup

For day 18 of Soup Month 2013 we made a spicy Mexican Salsa Verde Chicken Tortilla Soup that's packed with bold spicy flavors and is actually quite healthy. 

If you've never tried tortilla soup, this is a great recipe to try.  Made with green tomatillos, the salsa verde adds lots of flavor to the broth.  With just the right amount of chilies, onion, garlic, and just a touch of cilantro, the salsa verde makes this soup very easy to make.

By seasoning the meat with a basic taco seasoning mix, then quickly searing the meat, the chicken is nicely flavored and all of the juices stay inside.  Next the vegetables are sautéed and it's time to create the broth. 

I used this technique in a few other recipes recently and I love the results. By pureeing the corn with a cup of the chicken broth, you get these little pieces of corn in the soup, but the sweetness of the corn is infused into the broth.  This gives the broth a sweet taste and, when combined with the spicy chicken, is a perfect balance in this soup.  The addition of cornmeal near the end of the cooking time adds more corn flavor and gives the soup a nice rich texture, without diluting the flavors with flour or cornstarch.

For a garnish we fried up some tortilla strips, which only take a few minutes to make and add a crispy-crunchy texture to the soup.  You can also add avocado slices or crumbled queso fresco cheese on top of the soup. 

This is also a great "party" soup and it stays warm nicely if kept in a crock pot on the low setting.  Provide bowls of assorted toppings and your guests can serve themselves.  Super easy!  Enjoy!!

1-1/2 lbs  Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs, trimmed and cut into small pieces
2 tsp  Taco Seasoning Mix
1 TB  Canola Oil
1 small  Onion, finely chopped
1/2  Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1  Poblano Pepper, finely chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1 cup  Green Salsa Verde
4 cups  Chicken Broth, divided
1 cup  Frozen Corn, defrosted
3 TB  Cornmeal
2 TB  Water
6  Corn Tortillas, cut into narrow strips
Canola Oil for Frying

Season the chicken pieces with the taco seasoning and set aside.

In a medium soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the chicken to the pot and cook until browned, about 6 minutes, stirring frequently.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and keep warm.

Add the onion, both peppers and garlic to the pot and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the salsa verde and 3 cups of the chicken broth to the pot, and bring the mixture to low simmer over medium heat.

In a medium bowl, combine the corn and 1 cup of chicken broth and use a stick blender to puree the mixture, then add this mixture to the soup pot.  Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the soup to a boil. 

Combine the cornmeal and water in a small bowl, stirring until the cornmeal is moist.  Add this mixture to the soup, stir to combine, then reduce the heat to medium- low and cook for 15 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, heat 1/4-inch of oil in a large skillet.  Add the tortilla strips to the pan so they are not touching, working in 2 or 3 batches if needed, and fry the strips until golden and crispy.  Transfer the strips to a paper towel lined platter to drain.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with an assortment of toppings such as avocado slices, crumbled queso fresco cheese, and tortilla strips.

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