I have been pretty much roasting chicken every week. I find that by doing so, I have the makings for a healthy lunch and easy protein for my son to consume. The smell of roasted chicken in my kitchen is so wonderful. Like the rotisserie chicken that is so enticing in the grocery store, especially when I run in after work and so hungry! I can honestly say tho, that I have never bought one. I would actually feel guilty. I probably would have more time in my life if I didn’t feel the need to make everything homemade! Maybe someday…maybe not…
And it really is so very easy. I prefer to purchase chicken cut up in pieces. I preheat the oven to 425 degrees, line a large baking sheet with foil and top it with a rack. The foil is to make clean up easier and the rack is to allow the chicken to crisp up all over. I spray the rack with nonstick spray and then place the chicken parts on top. (I cut off excess fat, but leave the skin on.) I drizzle oil on top and sprinkle on salt, pepper, dried herbs (oregano, thyme), creole spices, really whatever I feel at the moment. I pop it in the oven for 30 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and continue to roast another 30 minutes. The chicken comes out juicy, nicely browned and crispy.
This week, making soup was definitely on my mind and I wanted something a bit more exciting than my traditional chicken soup. Tortilla Soup is basically a chicken soup with a lot of flavor from corn, tomatoes and the distant taste of cumin. It can be made spicy, which my son and I love, but not my daughter. Toppings like avocado, grated cheddar, crispy baked tortilla strips, sour cream, chopped green onion make it a fun entre allowing everyone to suit their own tastes.
2 ears fresh corn, husks removed
4 or 5 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 small onion, peeled, trimmed and quartered
1 small red pepper or jalapeno, trimmed and seeded
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 corn tortillas, cut into 1 inch squares
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 to 3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 quarts chicken stock, homemade or store-bought
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 corn tortillas
1 ripe avocado
1-2 large chicken breast, cooked, boned and skinned
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Using a large knife, carefully cut the kernels off the corn cobs and set aside, reserving the cobs.
Using a food processor, coarsely chop the garlic, onion, pepper and corn kernels. Reserve.
In a large soup pot, heat the oil. Add the squares of tortillas and cook over low heat until they are slightly crisp. Stir in the chopped vegetables and simmer just until the vegetables are coated with the oil. Do not brown.
Add the tomatoes, the tomato paste and 2 teaspoons of the cumin and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes to maximize the flavor. Slowly pour in the stock, add the corn cobs and cook over low heat until the soup is reduced by one-third, about 25-30 minutes.
Discard the corn cobs and puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth. For a smoother consistency, the soup can be passed through a fine strainer. Return to a clean pot and season with salt pepper and additional cumin to taste.
Prepare the Garnish: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tortillas into thin strips and arrange on a baking tray. Bake until the strips are crisp about 10-15 minutes. Peel and dice the avocado. Cut the chicken into strips or bite size chunks.
To serve, add the chicken to the soup and ladle into warm soup bowls. Serve immediately with garnishes for individual topping.
I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.