I don’t know what it is about this autumn, but I can tell already that it’s going to be a big-time soup winter. The weather hasn’t even been particularly harsh, but I’ve already been making soup like there’s no tomorrow, creating new soups and revisiting old favorites.
Take one of my go-to soups, Chicken Tortilla. I really love this soup — it’s always a hit with everyone who tries it, and it ranks high with me on the comfort-food scale. I really love the cheesy-creaminess of this soup, but wanted to lighten it up so I could make it more often without any of the guilt. I also wanted to get some smoky notes in there, because I thought it would be wonderful. And it was! Lightened up chipotle chicken tortilla soup: full of flavor but totally light on guilt.
Folks who make lots of white bean soups already know how lovely and velvety a simple bean soup can be … without so much as a splash of dairy.
I knew that white beans — such as the aptly named great northern bean — would seamlessly substitute for the cream in my new and fabulous chipotle chicken tortilla soup. I love how the beans add not just creamy goodness, but also a rich texture, without weighing down the soup or drowning out the other yummy flavors
Did you know that chipotle peppers are actually smoked ripe-red jalapeño peppers? The green peppers you find at the grocery have lots of jalapeño flavor, but red jalapenos … wowsers. I grow jalapeño peppers and always let them ripen to a deep, fire-engine red. They’re especially lovely when they have white striations on them — thin stripes so narrow they look like scratches and are signs of plant stress. Jalapeños with striations have extra chili pepper oomph. Big chain groceries probably would never purchase jalapeños with striations from a grower because they looked flawed (even though they’re totally not), but if you happen to find them at a local market, grab them up.
Smoky-spicy chipotle is one of my favorite cold-weather soup flavorings, and works particularly well in chicken tortilla soup. I hope you get a chance to try it, all creamied up with the white beans.
P.S.: Tune in Wednesday for a Giveaway!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup chopped onion (1 small-medium onion)
- 1 cup diced red bell peppers (1 small pepper)
- 1/2 cup chopped celery (about 1 stalk)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- 1 teaspoon regular chili powder (use your favorite blend)
- 1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 quart chicken stock (4 cups)
- 1 (15 ounce) can white beans (great northern or cannellini), drained and rinsed
- 1 pound cooked chicken, bones and skin removed, shredded or cubed (if you've cooked the chicken yourself, reserve the thigh and wing bones)
- 1/4 cup half and half
- 1 cup shredded melting cheese (such as quesadilla or oaxaca)
- kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, for garnish
- sour cream, for garnish
- tortilla strips, for garnish
- Heat the oil and butter in a 4 to 5 quart dutch oven or stock pot. Add the onions, peppers, celery, and a big pinch of salt, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste, and cook until the garlic is fragrant (just 30 seconds or so), and stir into the other veggies. Sprinkle the chili powders over the vegetables, and stir for 15 seconds, to bloom the spices.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, stock and beans (and reserved chicken bones if using). Raise to medium-high, and bring to a light boil, then reduce to medium-low, and cover partially with a lid to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove and discard the chicken bones (if using). If you'd like a smooth, creamy soup, run an immersion blend through the soup to break down the beans. Or leave it beany; your choice.
- Stir in the chicken meat, the dairy, and half of the shredded cheese. Stir well to combine.
- To serve, ladle the soup into bowl, and top with some of the cilantro, a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of the extra shredded cheese, and a generous amount of tortilla strips.