The combination of the subtle adobo heat with the bright flavors of lemon and cilantro make this Chicken Tortilla Soup an ideal way to savor those increasingly cool late-summer evenings. This is a soup that I have been making for more than 8 years now. That fact should tell you two things: first, it has stood the test of time. This is one of a small number of soups that are so good that we make them over and over again. Second, over those years, the innate experimenter in me has tweaked and modified and added and just generally weathered this recipe into what I will boldly proclaim a state of near perfection. About Quinoa Chicken Tortilla Soup To Make Tortilla Strip Garnish Nutritional Information
If the amazing flavor wasn't enough to win you over, consider this: one generous serving of this tasty soup has less than 150 calories, but includes almost 14 grams of protein, more than 3 grams of fiber, and a ton of nutrients. With power like that, it is sure to leave you feeling full and satisfied. This tasty soup was one of the meals that I prepared for our friends B. and J., who just had a baby. I froze individual servings of the soup for them so they would have an easy, satisfying, and healthy meal for any time (day or night) when hunger struck them.
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This can be made either vegetarian or with chicken, and is an ideal use for the chicken that is left over after roasting a whole chicken for dinner. The recipe as written here assumes that you will make this from boneless chicken breasts, because that is something most will have easily on hand. If you have delicious leftover roasted chicken meat, just substitute that in place of the chicken breasts. If you prefer vegetarian, omit the chicken, use vegetable broth and/or beer in place of the chicken broth, and reduce the liquid by 1-2 cups. This recipe also utilizes the Andean grain quinoa--a vegetarian source of complete protein--which makes it ideal for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Thyme for Cooking.
Although spurned for centuries because conquering Europeans associated it with native populations and non-Christian rituals, Quinoa has become a popular, even trendy, food in the United States and Europe in recent years. Part of its attraction is that quinoa is a grain with impressive nutritional content. It is very high in protein, and one of the few plant sources of "complete protein" (full set of amino acids). In addition to its nearly unique protein pedigree, quinoa is an easily digestable and gluten-free source that is high in fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and iron.
It is so remarkable as a food that NASA--that's right, those spacey science geeks--are looking into the possibility of growing it in space as a source of nutrition for astronauts on long-term manned spaceflights.
If it has impressed NASA geeks, perhaps it is time to make more room in your pantry for this impressive grain.
Makes 14 servings. Freezes well.
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced small
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds (when raw) boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 large carrots, peeled
1 cup diced tricolor sweet peppers
oil as needed to prevent sticking
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 can regular diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon chipotles in adobo, blended
1/2-1 medium jalapeno pepper, deseeded (optional if you like things hotter)
5 1/2 cups of Chicken Broth (or sub 1 c for beer)
1/4 cup dried quinoa
1 small can mild green chilis
2 tsp ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican oregano)
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2-3 tablespoons chili powder (I use Whole Foods bulk)
10 oz sweet corn
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
Garnish with (optional):
Sour cream or Greek yogurt
Oven baked strips of tortillas
If using chicken breast (rather than already roasted chicken leftovers), cut the chicken into rough dice no larger than 1/2 inch. Add oil to a large capacity pot and heat over medium high flame.
Add diced onion, carrots, red pepper flakes, and chicken. Do not stir continuously, because it will prevent browning the chicken. When you have a nice sear on one side of the chicken, agitate the pot to toss the chicken.
When chicken is partially opaque but not fully cooked through, add the tricolor peppers (okay to use only one color if you prefer). Again, allow to rest approximately 2 minutes before agitating to get a little seared edge on the peppers.
Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped garlic. Cook until fragrant, stirring. Do not allow garlic to burn: reduce heat if necessary.
When garlic is fragrant and golden but not burned, add: both cans of diced tomatoes, diced zucchini, chicken broth (if using beer substitute, reserve beer for adding later), quinoa, can of green chilis, corn, cumin, oregano, cloves, chili powder and salt.
To make blended chipotle/adobo: pour a can of chipotles in adobo sauce into a small capacity food processor and process on high until smooth and blended. Measure out 1/2 teaspoon of chipotle/adobo sauce and add to the soup. Return the remainder to a small container to store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
If you prefer a very spicy soup, you may increase the chipotle mixture up to 1 tsp and may optionally add 1/2-1 jalapeno, seeded and finely minced.
Heat over medium for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through, the quinoa is translucent, and the vegetables are cooked to al dente.
Just before serving, stir in the cilantro, lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper.
Garnish with your choice of: sour cream, guacamole, additional cilantro, and oven-baked tortilla strips.
Arrange in an even layer on a metal cookie sheet. Broil on low until crisp. Check them often because the intensity of the broiling heat varies by oven. Approximately 5-10 minutes.
(Do not, for example, get so involved photographing the soup that you burn your only tortillas to a charred rubble. Which explains why they don't appear in the photos above.)
This soup scores an A+ for its nutritional information and should easily work in to most diets. One generous serving of this tasty soup has less than 150 calories, and includes almost 14 grams of protein and a full 3 grams of fiber, which means it is sure to leave you feeling full and satisfied. This soup is also a nutrient powerhouse, providing more than half of your daily Vitamin A, 38 percent of daily Vitamin C, and a good amount of iron and calcium.
About QuinoaQuinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah or KEE-no-uh) has been an important food source in the Andean region of South America, where it originates, for more than 6000 years. Those local to growing sites sometimes eat the plant's leaves as well, but so far these edible greens haven't enjoyed broad commercial popularity. In the ancient Incan empire, quinoa was known as the "mother of all grains." This grain was so sacred to the Incans that the Emperor himself, not normally one for manual labor, would sow the first seeds of the planting season using golden implements.
Chicken Tortilla SoupBy the Skinny Gourmet (E. McDonnell)
To Make Tortilla Strip GarnishTake 2-3 small corn or flour tortillas (whatever you prefer). Slice each into thin strips, no more than 1/4 inch in width and preferably smaller. Cut the longer strips into half to produce "sticks" no more than 2.5 inches long. Spray strips with oil from an oil pump (or use PAM) sprinkle with coarse salt, and toss to ensure even coating.