Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chicken and Jalapeno Soup

As soon as I saw this soup on We Are Not Martha, one of my favorite food blogs, I knew I wanted to try it out and am so glad I had the chance to finally make it today. It was warm and hearty and full of good flavors, perfect for a snowy Sunday. And healthy too! I made a couple of changes to the recipe as it was posted on WANM, so the recipe listed below is as I made it. Below the recipe I'll note the changes I made.

Chicken Jalapeno Soup
• 3 large chicken breasts
• 2 T olive oil
• 1 large onion, diced

• 2 large carrots, diced

• 3 stalks celery, diced

• 4 cloves garlic, minced

• 2 jalapeno peppers, diced 

• 1/3 c. pickled jalapenos, diced (plus some juice)
• 2 t dried cumin
• 2 t dried oregano
• 2 bay leaves
• 3 (15 oz.) cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
• 32 oz. low-sodium chicken stock 
• 12 oz. bottle of Corona
• 2 T Worcestershire sauce
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Scallions, chopped (for garnish)
• Cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

1. Heat 2 T of oil in a large pot and cook onion, carrots, and celery until beginning to soften, about 10 minutes.
2. Add garlic and jalapenos (both kinds), along with the cumin, oregano, and bay leaves. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes.
3. Add beans, chicken stock, Corona, jalapeno juice (I used a few spoonfuls) and Worcestershire sauce. Cover and simmer for about a hour, until vegetables are completely cooked.
4. While the soup is simmering, poach the chicken breasts. Put the chicken in a medium saucepan with some salt and cover with about an inch of cold water. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for about 2 - 3 minutes. Cover and turn off heat, allowing chicken to cook for about 20 minutes more. When the chicken is done, remove from the water and shred with a fork. Add to the soup for the last 10 minutes of simmering, along with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Garnish with scallions and cilantro.

What I did differently:
- The original recipe called for 1 lb. of dried beans. I never have my act together enough in advance to soak dried beans, so canned it is. 3 cans seemed like a good amount to use.
- While I love a nice thick soup, I do like to have a bit more broth than this seemed to have, especially when I'm going to freeze some of it. I didn't want to open a whole second container of chicken stock, but didn't want to add flavorless water, so a Corona seemed like a nice complement to the flavors of the soup.
- The original recipe said to garnish with parsley, but I had scallions and cilantro on hand and thought those flavors went really well with the jalapeno and cumin. I was right. :-)
- I didn't add in the jalapeno seeds as the original recipe suggested, but I wish that I had, or had added in another jalapeno or more of the jalapeno juice. I was afraid of making the spiciness too overpowering, but there really wasn't enough kick for my taste. Next time I'll know better!
- WANM called for garlic croutons with the soup, but because I'm trying to eat healthier, I figured the last thing I need is a whole baguette's worth of buttery croutons. So I skipped those, but if I ever make this soup for a crowd of people, I'd definitely give the croutons a try. On New Year's Eve I had made some cheddar garlic biscuits and froze the leftovers so I did pull just one of those out to round out my dinner. Soup just isn't a complete meal to me without bread! See below for the biscuit recipe. It's a copycat of Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits and they're sooo good!

Copycat Recipe of Red Lobster's Cheddar Biscuits
from chef Todd Wilbur
• 2.5 c. Bisquick baking mix
• 3/4 c. cold milk
• 6 T cold butter, divided
• 3/4 t garlic powder, divided
• 1 heaping cup grated Cheddar cheese
• 1/4 t dried parsley flakes
• pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Combine Bisquick with 4 T butter, leaving pea-sized chunks of butter. Add cheddar, milk, and 1/4 t garlic powder.
3. Drop 1/4 c. portions onto ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake for 14 - 17 min.
5. Melt 2 T butter, stir in 1/2 t garlic powder, parsley flakes, and salt. Brush on top of the biscuits as soon as they come out of the oven, using up all the butter sauce.
Makes about 10 biscuits.

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