Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chicken Taco Soup

Taco soup is not my original idea, however I think it was a great one! I've heard of tortilla soups and things like that, but when I saw taco soup on the menu at a local eatery I was more than a little intrigued and excited. However, my excitement dissipated nearly as soon as the bowl of soup was set in front of me, then completely dissipated after the first bite... Basically, what this place was calling taco soup was nothing more than chili with corn added to it, then served with crackers. I don't know about any of you, but I don't usually eat corn on my tacos and I've never had bread or crackers with them either!
After coming home that night, I looked around on the internet for what I had pictured in my head for taco soup and only came up with dozens of recipes similar to what I had eaten earlier. There weren't even typical taco seasonings in any of the recipes, so I don't really understand what made them worthy of being called taco soup... So, I went about constructing my own version of it, going on the ideas I had conjured up in my head! I wanted to incorporate the taco shells idea but didn't want them mixed in the soup while they cooked, since they would just get soggy. And I love all of the taco fixin's, so I wanted those in there as well, but not necessarily cooked. So, I went about making the meat "base" and incorporating plenty of taco flavor in there that would carry through even with all of the toppings. Basically, I took my basic recipe for chili and changed it up a bit, taking out what I didn't want for this soup and adding what I did want. Then, I just added the typical taco fixin's on top of the soup after I divided it into bowls. The results were amazingly delicious! And you can make this for a party or potluck very easily by just making the soup part and putting it in a crock pot, like chili, and then setting the rest of the ingredients up as if for a taco bar. Who doesn't love a taco bar?!
Don't let the long list of ingredients scare you... Most of them are either the ingredients for the taco seasoning mix, which you can eliminate and use the packaged variety for if you really want (I prefer the homemade mix myself), using one package of mix per ⅓ portion of the homemade version, so three packages. Another large majority of ingredients are for the taco fixin's, which you don't have to use if you don't want to or don't like them. These just happen to be the ones I like... It's all about what YOU like, so make it your own!

Printable Recipe

1½ lb. chicken breast
6 Tbsp. chili powder
3 Tbsp. ground cumin
1½ tsp. garlic powder
1½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. sea salt
4½ tsp. smoked paprika
3 tsp. ground coriander
1½ tsp. cayenne pepper
32 oz. low-sodium chicken broth or stock
1 (2.87 oz.) container chili powder
2 qt. tomato juice
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 (14.5 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained
Fresh tomatoes, diced
Green onion, sliced
Lettuce, shredded
Black olives, sliced
Shredded cheddar cheese
Guacamole or diced avocado
Sour cream
Tortilla chips or thin tortilla strips

Combine the 6 tablespoons of chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, paprika, coriander, and cayenne pepper in a bowl; divide the mixture into a ⅓ portion and a ⅔ portion, set aside.
Place the chicken breast pieces in a large stockpot. Mix the ⅓ portion of seasoning mix with a small amount of the chicken broth, stirring well, and pour over the chicken. Pour the remaining chicken broth over the chicken, cover the stockpot with a lid, and simmer until chicken is cooked through. When the chicken is completely cooked, remove from the stockpot and cool until you can handle it easily; shred the chicken with your hands into small bite-size pieces and return to the stockpot.
Mix the remaining ⅔ portion of spice mixture and the chili powder with some tomato juice and whisk until well incorporated, and then add it to the stockpot. Add the remaining tomato juice, tomato sauce, canned diced tomatoes, and black beans. Simmer the soup for at least an hour to allow all of the flavors to marry and enhance.
When soup is ready, serve it in bowls (make sure to leave some room at the top of your bowl) and top with fresh tomatoes, green onions, lettuce, black olives, shredded cheddar cheese, avocado, and sour cream. Sprinkle with thin-cut tortilla strips or serve with tortilla chips.

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