Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Salsa Chicken Soup       Photo by Valerie Phillips
I knew it would happen. I've been steadily working on a cookbook for over six months -- testing a  recipe nearly every day, no matter what freelance projects or family or church things I've got going.  It's not as hard as it sounds, because nearly all the recipes are designed to take 30 minutes or less.

But,  I finally hit the wall. For all of spring, Utah's long spell of cold, rainy weather kept me indoors and in the kitchen.  Now the sun has come out and I'm just not feelin' warm and cozy meals.

Also, last Friday I did minor surgeries, and I'm supposed to stay off my feet for a few days.  I figured, why not just be miserable once and get it over? Drove to the oral surgeon in the morning, then stopped in at the doctor's office.  While my foot was still fairly numb (and it was my left foot so I could still drive), I picked up my prescriptions and hit the drive-through for a Wendy's Frosty to soothe my aching mouth.  Told my family that "Dinner is YoYo," (You're on You're Own) and went to bed in time for the pain meds to kick in.

Saturday was Crock-Pot ribs, and Sunday I threw some salmon on the grill. Monday my hubby took me out for a quick dinner at the new Javier's in Farmington. So I've been taking it easy, but it's not like anyone is starving.

I'm still not in the mood for peeling, chopping, and standing in front of a stove.  Today, it was Salsa Chicken Soup to the rescue.  This is my go-to soup when I'm short on time, energy, or ingredients. It's ready within 30 minutes, and most of the ingredients are sitting on my pantry shelf.  And it's fairly low-fat and nutritious with lots of tomatoes and chiles. You can use rotisserie chicken or frozen, roasted diced chicken such as Tyson's, if you don't want to take the time to dice and cook fresh chicken.  Whenever I cook chicken, I usually freeze extra so I have something to toss into pasta, rice or other one-dish meals. It always comes in handy for this soup.

If you have fresh tomatoes, corn or chiles, by all means, use them. The one fresh item you really can't overlook is cilantro.  Dried cilantro is tasteless as sawdust. Luckily, I have a pot of cilantro growing in my kitchen window, so I cut some sprigs and avoided a trip to the grocery store.

I developed this soup for a slow-cooker story while I was food editor at the Deseret News. It became a family favorite, and one that my readers requested often. Although I usually cook it on the stovetop, and sometimes in the microwave, it's very easy to do in the slow-cooker.  Just toss in the ingredients, wait a few hours and then add the cilantro near the end of cooking time.

Soon I'll be moving like new, and back in Zumba class. And yes, back in the kitchen.

2 to 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or about 2 cups cooked, diced chicken)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin (or use a half-packet of Mexican seasoning and omit the onion and garlic powder)
2 14-ounce cans of chicken broth (or 4 cups water with 4 chicken bouillon cubes)
1 24-ounce jar mild or medium chunky salsa (or hotter if desired)
1 small can diced mild green chiles (or jalapenos if you desire more heat)
1 15-ounce can corn, drained
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 bag baked tortilla chips
Shredded cheddar cheese or light sour cream for garnish, if desired

Dice chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes (this is easier to do when chicken is partially frozen). Brown chicken in the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, adding the onions as the chicken begins to brown.

Add garlic, cumin, water, broth, salsa, corn, black beans and half of the cilantro. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, and cook 10-15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. To serve, put a few chips in each bowl and then ladle soup into bowl. Sprinkle on remaining cilantro, sour cream, cheddar cheese and tortilla strips if desired. Serves 8-10.

Options: If using a slow-cooker, put all ingredients except cilantro and tortilla chips in the pot and cook on high 3-4 hours, or on low 5-7 hours. Add cilantro near the end of cooking time. If you have leftover soup, make a Salsa Chicken Rice Casserole by stirring in cooked rice; top with cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese. This soup also freezes well for later use. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wish there were a magic bullet. But that Diane has kept off that 100 plus
pounds is a success story!