With temperatures hovering in the single digits and teens for several days the past week, I started to crave warm foods like lots and lots of tea and hot soup. One of my favorite soups is both temperature-hot and just a little bit spicy-hot. This Mexican dish goes by many names: Spicy Salsa Soup, Tortilla Soup (if you add tortillas in the end), Southwestern Tomato Soup…and the list goes on. It’s one of those recipes that was probably intended to be an MSG-laden processed food for an easy weeknight meal. But since I can my own salsa, freeze my own sweet corn and make my own chicken broth, this soup turns into a delicious slow-food meal that with a little bit of pre-planning only takes a few minutes to throw together.
I typically cook this meal on a week when I have time to cook a whole chicken the night before, then I make stock from the chicken carcass. So realistically we are looking at a 2-day commitment, but if you have a crockpot you are in business.
Step 1. Cooking the Free-Range Organic Chicken in a Crockpot
After purchasing my farm-raised chicken from the farmers market, I cook it in a crockpot on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours. (By the way, the United States Department of Agriculture is now recommending that you don’t wash your poultry. Check out this video to learn why.) Next, I place the chicken in the crockpot with about ½ cup of water. Then I top it with a little bit of salt and pepper, minced garlic and dried herbs. Once it’s done I serve it and pick the rest of the meat off the bones to save for the next day’s soup.
Step 2. Making the Stock
I make the chicken stock from the chicken carcass using a rough recipe like this chicken stock recipe from the Food Network. Since I work from home most of the time, I can keep it on the stove for a few hours and not worry about it, but if you have to leave the house I’m sure it would be fine in the crockpot all day as long as the carcass stays submerged. There are also plenty of good quality broths and stocks available if you don’t have time to make your own.
Step 3. Choosing the Right Salsa
If you didn’t get a chance to can your own salsa last year, you are missing out! Definitely check out this recipe for canned salsa. Many people have raved about how it’s the best canned salsa they’ve ever tasted! If you didn’t make your own, the good news is that there are still many awesome salsas available at Wolff’s Apple House. Just pick a plain one that suits your spiciness preference and hold off on the black beans and corn or other unusual ingredients for now.
Step 4. Making the Soup – this should only take 25 minutes!
- Chicken Tortilla Soup
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3 tsp minced garlic
- 2 cups MSG-free chicken broth
- 2 (16 oz) jars salsa (mild, medium or hot depending on preference)
- 1 Tbsp. lime juice
- 2 tsp. chili powder
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. oregano
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 cup sweet corn
- 2 cups black beans, soaked, rinsed & drained (or 1 15 oz. can)
- 2 cups slow cooked, shredded chicken
- [Garnish with:]
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Cheddar cheese, shredded
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- 5 scallions, chopped
- Sour cream
- Tortilla chips, crushed
- Sauté garlic in oil in a large pot until garlic is lightly brown.
- Meanwhile, blend salsa and broth together in a blender until smooth.
- Pour salsa and broth mixture into pot and add lime juice. Add chili powder, cumin, oregano and cayenne.
- Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
- Add corn, beans, & chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Ladle soup into individual serving bowls & garnish with grated cheese, cilantro, sour cream, chopped green onion or crushed tortilla chips.