23 June 2013

Roasted Mexican Soup

It seems that every year, some crop is absolutely gorgeous.  Right now, I'm totally stuck on the glorious ears of  corn that are cropping up left and right (pun intended!).  These gorgeous ears can't make it to my mouth fast enough.  We've been grilling them up left and right, using our special family recipe and other fabulous creations.  But what I've been making more than anything is Roasted Mexican Soup.  I absolutely love this stuff in the summer.

When we went to Mazatlan last year, I was surprised at how many hot dishes the wait staff at our resort recommended.  They insisted that eating a hot dish in the hot weather is actually more refreshing than a cold dish.  And it's actually kind of true.  Think about it - a cold dish is refreshing while you eat it, but afterwards you heat right back up again.  If you eat a hot dish, you heat yourself up for a short period of time, but when you finish your body cools down a bit, leaving you feeling more refreshed afterwards.  Maybe I'm a gullible moron, but it makes sense to me....even if it doesn't come across that way in print. Moving on.....

Chicken tortilla soup is always delicious.  It's loaded with delicious protein, packed with vegetables and served with a crunch of tortilla strips...truly a bountiful bowl.  This recipe is my spin on this classic soup.  By using roasted corn, jalapeno and tomatoes, you get extra depth of flavor and added richness.  When fruits and veggies are roasted, their flavors become more intense and crazy delicious.  Now if I were truly sticking to the letter of the law, I would also roast my own tomatoes, onions and bell peppers.  But I have found that Glenn Muir makes absolutely delicious roasted diced tomatoes, and on hot days I prefer to keep my oven off as much as possible.  So I let them do the roasting for me to cut out a step and about 10 degrees in my teeny weeny kitchen.

To steal a term from Rachel Ray, this is truly more a "stoup" than a "soup".  I prefer my soups extra hearty, and therefore use a minimal amount of broth.  But if you prefer soup to stoup, add another cup or two of broth.

I have made this soup twice in the past two weeks.  I absolutely love heating up a bowl of this soup to eat for lunch in my sub-zero office building.  The smell caused a commotion with my co-workers, and upon giving them a taste they demanded the recipe.  It may be June, but it's never a bad time for a truly terrific soup.

Roasted Mexican Soup (about 5 servings)
  • 2 ears corn
  • 1 jalapeno (seeds & membrane removed for less heat)
  • 8-10 oz raw chicken breast (I opt for tenders)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded & diced
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2-3 dashes cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 c black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 15-oz can fired roasted tomatoes 
  • 1 4-oz can green chilies 
  • 3-4 c reduced sodium chicken broth (if not reduced sodium, omit the salt)
  • 1 tbs fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 c shredded cheese (pepper jack, oaxaca or cheddar) 
  • 1 c tortilla chips, slightly crunched 
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 4 tbs minced cilantro, to garnish 
Turn your oven broiler onto high and position a rack directly under the heat.  Shuck the corn and place on a baking sheet with the jalapeno.  Place the pan under the broiler and roast, turning occasionally, until the corn is golden and the jalapeno is completely blistered.  The jalapeno will finish before the corn - remove to a paper bag and roll the top shut to steam while the corn finishes.  Remove to a cutting board and let cool.

Place a large flat-bottomed skillet or non-stick pan over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken with pepper and garlic powder.  Spray the heated pan with non-stick and add the seasoned chicken.  Cook for 4-5 minutes per side, until chicken is cooked through.  Remove to the cutting board with the corn to cool.

Reduce the heat on the pan to medium.  Carefully pour the oil into the pan and swirl to coat the bottom.  Add the diced onion and red bell pepper, cooking for 4-5 minutes until veggies are tender.  While the veggies are cooking, cut the roasted corn off of the cobs and shredding the chicken breast with two forks.  Prepare the jalapeno by peeling off the skin, removing the stem and finely mincing (you can remove the seeds and membrane before mincing for a little less heat).  

Once the veggies are tender, season with chili powder, cumin and salt.  Add the corn, jalapeno, chicken and black beans to the cooked veggies and stir together well.  Pour in the green chilis, fire roasted tomatoes and chicken broth, then increase heat to high.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 20-25 minutes.  Finish by stirring in a tablespoon of lime juice, and adjust salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, dish up soup into bowls and sprinkle with cheese and crushed tortilla chips.  Top with avocado and cilantro.  Great with a margarita on a summer day!  

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