Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Caldo de Pollo = Yummy, Healthy, Healing Food

One of my absolute favorite foods is caldo de pollo, Mexican chicken soup. Seriously delicious and definitely my go-to comfort food. Lately I've needed some comforting, so this soup has been on my mind.

Last week I went to my neighborhood Mexican restaurant, and they forgot to put my take-out order in. I waited a very long time for the soup that nurtures all lows and replenishes my spirit, so I thought, "Why not try my hand at this soup?" I'm glad the do-it-yourself ethic is alive and well in this chica as I was inspired to try my hand in making this flavorful dish. Never again will I wait for something I can easily make at home. This recipe takes less than an hour to prepare and is well worth the time you'll invest.
So, here's my version and recipe (inspired by the Penzeys Spices' Chicken Tortilla Soup):

Caldo de Pollo
Yields 8-12 servings

6 chicken thighs
4 8-inch flour tortillas
1 1/2 tbsps. olive oil
1/2-1 tsp. kosher salt
8 cups chicken broth
2 tsps. ground cumin
2 tsps. adobe chili powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
24 oz. jar of chunky salsa
1 cup black beans
1 cup kidney beans
1 cup sweet white corn (frozen works in a pinch)
1 cup uncooked rice (yields 2 cups cooked rice)

cilantro, chopped
avocado, sliced thickly
lime wedges

1. Salt and pepper the chicken thighs (front and backside) before placing the chicken into a cast iron skillet.
2. Put 2 tbsps. olive oil into a medium hot cast iron skillet. You'll know the skillet is ready for the chicken when a flick of cold water sizzles and beads into droplets in the pan.
3. Pan fry the chicken thighs for about 5-6 minutes on each side. Don't fuss with the chicken while it's cooking. You want the chicken to to seal in the juices.
4. After the chicken is done cooking, let it cool to room temperature and then shred with a knife and fork or clean hands. Put shredded chicken off to the side. We'll be using it soon.
5. Cook the 1 cup uncooked rice (I used jasmine rice, but feel free to use a different variety) in 2 cups water with a pinch of salt. You may use a rice cooker or a the stove top. Keep rice off to the side to; we'll be getting to it in a second as well.
6. While you're cooking the chicken and rice, bake the tortilla strips for the soup's crunchy garnish.
7. Brush both sides of the four flour tortillas with olive oil, sprinkle lightly with salt. Cut tortillas into strips (with a sharp knife or pizza roller). Place strips on a baking sheet and into a cold oven, then turn the oven on to 375 degrees F.
8. When the oven reaches 375, turn off the oven but don't open the door until it cools down (about 15-30 minutes, depending on your oven). Tortilla strips will be golden and crunchy.
9. In a stockpot, simmer the chicken broth, shredded chicken, spices, and salsa over medium heat until heated through (about 10-15 minutes).
10. Add beans, corn and rice and cook an additional 5-10 minutes.
11. Serve the soup with tortilla strips, cilantro (yum!), and avocado wedges. Don't forget to squeeze some lime juice over this nurturing soup.

Buen provecho!


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