Friday, March 13, 2009

Cold Buster: Mexican Style Chicken Soup with Chiles

Up until about three days ago, I thought I'd actually escaped the cold season this year. Peef and I have both been healthy as horses. We scoffed at the stomach flu when it passed through town. We laughed in the face of a few dozen colds and breathed sighs of relieve when we got through both January and February without so much as a sniffle.

Of course, I should have known better than to think we were out of the woods already; after all, it's only March. There's still bits of snow on the ground here in Wisconsin, and the temperatures won't be steadily above 50ºF for another 3-4 weeks.

Sure enough, I woke up on Tuesday with the rumblings of a sore throat. I took a nice wopping dose of Vitamin C, as a precaution, but I chalked the scratchiness up to a rough night of snoring. Heh. By Wednesday, when the sniffles started settling in, I was pretty sure that something more than sleeping with my mouth open was to blame. And today... well, today I'm verifiably cold-ridden. Serves me right for getting all cocky and thinking my immune system was impenetrable.

On the up-side, feeling under the weather always gets me in the mood for a nice big bowl of soup. And I've got a pretty fantastic version to share with you today. This actually started out with the intention of being an easy-peasy tortilla soup... but the direction turned a bit when I discovered a few stray dried chiles sitting around in the back of my fridge.

Mmm. Chiles. There weren't many of them, so they'd be perfect thrown into my soup. But, the process for rehydrating them would add a bit of time to the soup prep, and I wasn't really sure I was up to it. But, after taking a nice big whiff of their rich, smoky aroma, I pulled them out of the bag and tossed them into some warmed chicken broth and let them soak for a good 1/2 hour.
When they were sufficiently softened, I blenderized them into the smoothest puree I could manage.
And then, just to be safe, I threw the whole mess through a fine sieve to get out all the seeds and funky little bits that are inevitably left over.
I sauteed some onions & garlic, threw in a bit of cumin and some Mexican oregano. And then I turned up the heat a bit. When the pan was nice and hot, I threw in the chile puree all at once and let it sear nicely. I added some tomato sauce, and then let the sauce reduce a bit before I added the remaining ingredients -- some additional broth, a bay leaf, and some minced red bell pepper.
After the soup had simmered for a while, I also threw in about a 1/2 pound of shredded collard greens. After all, why not take the health benefits up a notch with a bit of leafy-green action?
By the time the greens were cooked and I'd thrown in some cooked chicken and a bit of frozen corn, the kitchen smelled positively irresistable. Between the smoky chiles and the savory broth, I was seriously feeling better already. I poured a nice big serving into a bowl, and stuffed my face down into it. *huff* This was some seriously good food for a person who started off feeling not-so-much like cooking.

A bit of avocado, a couple of crunchy tortilla strips, and a liberal dose of cilantro (mmm... antioxidents), and I was all set for dinner.
I don't know about your mother, but my mother sure didn't make chicken soup that tasted like this!

Mexican style Chicken Soup with Chiles

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  1. That looks wonderful! Spicy and comforting! Yum!

  2. Oh, I want some of that when I'm sick!! Sounds wonderful and spicy! Love avocado, the coolness cutting through the hit of the soup. MMMMMM.

    Hope you're feeling better soon!!!

  3. Oh seriously you were able to put this together while sick? You are more amazing than I thought.

  4. This soup looks amazing - comforting and spicy! Hope you'll be feeling better soon!

  5. Hope you feel better soon, in fact I'm sure you did feel way better after a bowl of this delicious soup. Looks fantastic and packed with flavour!

  6. That soup looks great!
    Hope you feel better quickly!

  7. we had the first sniffles this week too. But we survived on bone broth and italian veggie soup. This soup looks wonderful. I love anything HOT! Yeah for the sinuses.

  8. Thanks for all the well wishes, guys. I just ate some of the leftover soup for lunch -- and my sinuses are clear as day (well, for at least the next 15 minutes!)

    Cathy - I don't ALWAYS cook when I'm sick (it was frozen pizza topped with raw garlic last night), but I was having a craving... so this seemed worth the effort! Plus, it's always easier to cook when you have a spouse, like Peef, who HELPS!

  9. Hope you feel better soon! I was feeling the same last week, so I should have known about this soup then!!
    (btw... my mom couldn't really cook, so definitely not soup like this!!)

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  11. oh man does that soup look awesome! Yummy!

  12. Soup is definitely the thing to make anyone feel better when they're under the weather- Hope you're back to feeling 100% soon!

  13. Whoohooo that's a lot of chilis! Can we handle it? :)

  14. We got hit too in the Pond. Ben was as sick as a horse. I wish we'd had this!!

  15. Where was this recipe a week ago when I had the ick? Well, it won't be spring in Chicago for a while yet, maybe we'll get a cold day, perfect for soup.

  16. How is it that you make pictures of puree look good? It's moments such as these that I miss chicken -- a true comfort food. And you know how I am about chiles -- bring them on! Looks wonderful.


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