This week I have no new WIP photos to share. I am still knitting a blue lace scarf, neon self-striping socks, red cabled socks, and a sweater. Remember my “one pattern repeat a day” commitment to my blue lace scarf? It’s working! Last week I missed a couple of days so I got myself caught up on Thursday. Last Friday I proceeded to knit another two repeats and on Saturday I knitted four pattern repeats. And, to add to the happiness, today I squeezed in my one pattern repeat. This commitment has helped me a lot because I am making fewer mistakes and can knit more repeats in one sitting. I’ll have this scarf done sooner than later, which makes me very satisfied. It’s a cold month so maybe I’ll even get a chance to wear it this year before the warmer days of Spring come around. If not, I can look forward to using it.
Instead of giving you my usual WIP Wednesday I am offering you a recipe Monday. It’s for a chicken soup (or maybe chili?). It has Mexican flavors and I invented it a few weeks ago. I’ve made it about four times now so I think I’m addicted to it and I’m ready to share the recipe. I’ve been eating it for supper quite a lot. My favorite soup, in fact, is chili, but I try to keep my ground beef consumption down to once a week (or never) if I can for health reasons, which means I shouldn’t be eating a bowl of classic chili con carne every other day. I decided to make a healthier version with chicken. I’m not a big fan of chicken, typically I only really like the breast part of this animal, and only when it’s seasoned well, so it was a challenge for me to invent something I would like. Evidently, I was successful, because I have turned myself into an addict to this soup. Below, please find the recipe. After the recipe I’ll talk a little more about different things you can do to it to make it more soup and less chili or more chili and less soup. Also, I’ll provide some ways to hack it to turn it into something else. In the ingredients list I’ve given amounts of seasonings in a range of numbers to accommodate people who like more or less heat. I like my food spicy, so you know which end of the numbers I prefer. Anyway, it’s soup (or chili) for crying out loud. No need to be super OCD about the amounts unless you have dietary restrictions or some other need or desire to be super careful with measurements. I am not a nutritionist so I have no guidance to offer on that end. For me and my health, this soup works great for me.
Chicken chili (soup)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, uncooked (raw!), cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 large can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1 jar (the kind for dipping tortilla chips) Mexican salsa (use what you have or like, but nothing exotic like “with mangoes” or “with black beans,” etc.)
1 small can of sliced jalapeños, drained, or 3 fresh jalapeños, sliced, optional
1-2 cups chicken broth, homemade, from bouillon cubes, powder, a carton, or a can, not important how it’s made
1 cup frozen corn or a small can of corn, drained
1 can (14 ounces) red kidney beans, drained, optional
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 Spanish onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 Tablespoons hot paprika (or more if you like lots of heat)
2-3 teaspoons ground cumin
2-3 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon olive oil
- Blend together: paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, cayenne pepper (or red pepper flakes), garlic powder, and onion powder. Season chicken breast cubes with the blend.
- In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the seasoned chicken in the oil for about five minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink.
- Add to the dutch oven: red bell pepper, minced garlic, diced onion, corn, jalapeños (if desired), and bay leaf. Sauté ten minutes more, or until pepper is soft and onion is translucent. If you want to help the vegetables cook faster, add a pinch of salt if you wish.
- Add to the dutch oven: crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, Mexican salsa, and beans (if desired).
- Simmer over very low heat for two or three hours (the longer you can slowly simmer it the better). Season to taste, remove bay leaf, and serve.
Good for reheating. I serve this dish to myself, freshly made and reheated. It gets me through quite a few meals and for some reason, since I made a batch over the weekend, I feel all cozy knowing my soup is waiting for me in the fridge to reheat whenever I want. When you reheat it, don’t microwave it unless you’re totally in a hurry or at work having lunch in the break room. It ruins the chicken breast meat slightly — but it’s OK, just not as good as reheated slowly. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I had it for supper and this week so far I’ve eaten it for lunch once (today, Monday). Remember: I live in Spain and lunch is our big meal and supper is lightish unless we’re super hungry. Last month I also ate this soup-chili frequently.
Garnishes and sides. As far as I remember I have had this dish: topped with grated cheddar cheese, plain (nothing on top), garnished with grated cheddar cheese and sour cream on top, with and without toppings with a cheese quesadilla on the side, with and without toppings with saltines on the side, and without toppings with a roasted red pepper hummus sandwich on the side (today for lunch). On Wednesday I’ll have it for lunch again and I think I’ll eat a ham and cheese on whole wheat on the side. I have to say I have enjoyed this soup each and every way I have served it to myself. So much so that each time I eat it, I have two bowls of it, I just can’t resist.
Results with and without options. I’ve eaten it with beans and without beans as well as with jalapeños and without jalapeños. I thought all the versions were delicious. In Spain in my city it’s impossible to buy fresh jalapeños so I’ve always had to use the canned type. I haven’t used any other type of broth but from bouillon cubes but I’ve left the source of the broth up to you because I don’t think it’s critical to use one type or another. A low-sodium chicken broth might require you to consider the “season to taste” instruction a bit more seriously, though.
If you do not enjoy this soup, I am very sorry. But, as they say, everybody’s taste is different.
- Consistency: You could leave out the chicken broth to have a chunkier stew (or more chili-like chili) and just add some chicken bouillon powder to the pot as a seasoning.
- Italianize: You could also completely alter the soup by removing its tex-mex flavor and replacing it with an Italian flavor: replace the cumin with dried basil, the red kidney beans with white beans, use zucchini instead of corn, and leave out the Mexican salsa and jalapeños. As an Italian soup, you could serve it topped with an Italian cheese, mozzarella or Parmesan-reggiano. I haven’t tried this out yet, but I plan to do this in the future. First I have to get this tex-mex addiction out of my system.
- Slow cooker: I don’t have a slow cooker but in the USA I had one and used it often, so I know you could adapt this recipe for the crock pot if you wanted. If you have a slow cooker, consult the manual that came with it to figure out how to adapt the recipe.
- Other chicken parts: If you don’t like the texture of chicken breast meat when it’s been simmered for hours (it can get stringy) by all means use other parts of the chicken, such as thigh meat. I don’t care for chicken thighs, but maybe you love them. If you do, you should definitely try it out.