Cold weather is upon us and there isn't a much better way to warm up after being out in the chilly, sometimes harsh, winds of the Tygart Valley than with a creamy, spicy Mexican soup. Because the soup can be made in a slow cooker, with very little prep time, it is great for a busy family or individual.
A craving for barbecued pulled pork was what lead me to purchase a slow cooker a couple months ago. After a failed attempt at slow cooker scalloped potatoes, I was leary of attempting something different. I decided to stick with soups for a couple more attempts and stumbled across this recipe on cooks.com.
I've never been a big fan of Mexican or Latin American food. My philosophy is, "If I want tacos, I'll make them at home." This soup was easy, not too spicy and a far cry from tacos. I added some salt and pepper to the original recipe because it was slightly bland. Try not to add too much salt, however, since most of the ingredients are canned. The suggestion of serving it over corn chips was a stroke of genius on the original cook's part. I used yellow corn chips for their ability to retain their integrity longer in soupy situations.
A couple of other things that I modified included the addition of red pepper flakes. The green chiles are mild and add little to no heat to the soup, the same with the enchilada sauce. In the original recipe, the chicken isn't cooked at the beginning and cooks throughout the process. I had a problem with the chunks of chicken in the end product. The second time I made the soup I cooked the chicken in a little olive oil the night before and shredded it before I added it into the soup.
Because of this, I reduced the cook time to about three hours. I was afraid, however, that not cooking the chicken in the other ingredients would take away from the overall flavor. This didn't happen. Cooking the chicken beforehand will also eliminate the need for a slow cooker. Pre-cooked chicken can be added to a soup pot with the other ingredients and simmered on the stove for an hour or two.
A simple side dish for the Mexican-style soup is a Santa Fe Quesadilla. A salsa with corn, black beans and diced tomato served inside or along with quesadillas adds color to the dish. Like with all cold salads, dips or salsas, the flavors are a lot more intense when they have had a chance to meld. The Santa Fe Salsa was highly received among my coworkers, two coworkers had two quesadillas each for breakfast.
Santa Fe Salsa
1 can black beans
1 can whole kernel corn (yellow, white or mixed)
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 bundle of green onions
1 tsp. chili powder
Drain beans and corn and combine with tomatoes. Cut the greens of the green onions and juice the lime onto vegetables. Salsa is best after 12 hours or more refrigeration before serving to allow flavors to meld.
Chicken Enchilada Soup
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 10 oz. can cream of chicken soup
1 10 oz. can green enchilada sauce
1 4 oz. can chopped green chiles
1 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, cut into small cubes, softened
Chopped cilantro or green onions (optional)
Yellow corn tortilla chips (optional)
Combine the chicken, soups, enchilada sauce, chiles and broth in a slow cooker. Cook on low for six hours.
Add the cream cheese and whisk until smooth.
Optional serving ideas: serve over tortilla chips, add chopped cilantro or top with green onions.
Along with the salsa, the entire meal serves six. Because of the simplistic ingredients, doubling the soup recipe is very easy. The spice of both dishes is also easily adjusted to meet the tastes of anyone. A little more red pepper flakes in the soup or a diced jalapeno in the salsa could heat things up nicely.