Mexican Chicken Lime Soup

I’ve started yet another writing class.  This one is specifically geared towards blog writing.  If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you know that I struggle (or downright ignore) trying to connect the introduction (this part) and the actual recipe I’ve created.  Anyone in the blogging world knows this is a mortal sin, yet I lack any desire to blather on about the benefits of store-bought rotisserie chicken (although it CAN be a time-saver, especially in a soup like this one). 

I have a suspicion I’m taking this class hoping for validation – from the instructor, from my fellow bloggers – that, although not orthodox to mismatch intro and recipe, it’s my damn blog and I can do whatever I want. I know I don’t need outside validation, but a bit of encouragement doesn’t hurt now and then. 

Our first assignment is determining our target audience, aka my ideal reader.  What’s her name? What’s she like? What does she do?  Where does she read my blog?  WHY does she read my blog? Essentially, who is my muse? [Side Note:  I HAD a muse for a number of years, but his presence in my life became problematic and I’ve had to move on.]

My new muse is Chloe.  Chloe is 35, a struggling photographer living in a loft in our suburban “downtown” arts district.  She’s got time on her hands – time to cook real meals for real friends.  Her dining table is a wobbly Ikea purchase covered with an old sarong.  Her chairs are mismatched; the wine glasses too – gorgeous pale pink and green thrift-store finds.  She spends her money on antique costume jewelry and the finest chocolates she can get her hands on.  She loves my sweet vermouth and I bring her a bottle often.

Chloe and I meet every week for coffee at a cozy shop two blocks from her loft that always smells of yeast and freshly roasted beans.  We’re bored with the same conversations everyone is having – about how they’re surviving COVID distancing, about what their kids are up to, about their latest intermittent fasting diet or doctor’s visit.  So, Chloe and I decided we each must bring two things to our coffee dates – an interesting story that happened during the week (or, if the event wasn’t interesting, the story must be entertaining) and our newest recipe.  We share over our cappuccinos.

Ta-Da! And just like that – justification for this mismatched blog.

This soup recipe is my last installment in the “Soup Sundays” series.  Over the next few days, I’ll be thumbing through my collection of recipes deciding what’s up next for November.  As always, I’ll be baking – it IS the beginning of the holiday season, after all, but my cholesterol level needs a hiatus from my holy trinity diet of butter, sugar and flour.  A carrot now and again isn’t a bad thing. 


Mexican Chicken Lime Soup

Copious amounts of lime give an added twist to this easy soup. Store-bought rotisserie chicken keeps it fuss-free.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 3 corn tortillas, cut into strips
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons diced chipotles in adobo (found in the Hispanic section of most markets)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 14-oz. can whole tomatoes, chopped with juice
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh oregano
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry tortilla strips until golden. Transfer to a paper towel to drain.
  2. In a large saucepan, sauté bell pepper and onion until softened and beginning to turn golden in spots. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add chipotles, cumin, and tomatoes with juice and combine. Add chicken stock, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes until vegetables are soft.
  3. Add chicken, cilantro, oregano and lime juice and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve soup sprinkled with tortilla strips.

Classic Pea Soup

She came to me in a dream…and had all the answers.

Do you ever have those dreams that impart so much truth, wisdom, and clarity that you commit to remembering every bit upon waking? 

I had one of those dreams the other night – the message was relevant and so dreadfully important.  The key to my happiness was locked in its meaning.  If I could remember, my life would transform. As I stirred from sleep, the details scattered from my mind like raindrops flung from my opening eyelashes.  Oh, the horror!  Of course, securing life’s answer is never that simple.  

I’ve been talking with a friend lately about metamorphosis and transformation.  Why do we confine ourselves to be the person we have scripted?  I’ve spoken before about our personal “story” – the story that we’ve concocted to describe ourselves…something to put behind the “I.”  “I am this,” “I do that,” and “I like those.” When we do so, we conscribe our own possibilities.

So, what did my dream have to tell me?  Alas, the details are gone, but snippets are still fluttering in my mind.  My dream was about things that hold us back from true transformation – from radically changing our story. 

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of success – “who am I to deserve this?”
  • Idleness – why bother, I’m content where I am
  • Comfort in the known – transformation is inherently uncomfortable
  • Morals, values and laws that may no longer apply, serve a purpose, or be correct – society’s and our own personal beliefs
  • The opinion of others
  • The energy to make it happen – with barely the strength to get through the week, how do we find the strength to transform?

If we can overcome these obstacles, then true, lasting, profound change can be ours, but that, my friend, is a difficult road.

The key to everlasting happiness may be elusive,  but a bowl of comforting and fleeting happiness can be found in this hearty and soul-satisfying pea soup.  Enjoy!


Classic Pea Soup

  • Servings: Serves 6-8
  • Print

Enjoy this hearty, smoky, classic pea soup on a chilly fall evening with crusty bread and a simple pear salad.


Ingredients

  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 cups dried green split peas
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 smoked ham hock
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • Sour cream (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add the carrots, celery, and onions and cook until the onions are soft. Add the bay leaves and thyme. Add the split peas and stir to combine. Add the broth and the ham hock and bring to a boil.
  2. Turn heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. If soup is too thick, add a little more broth. The soup is ready when the peas are soft, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.
  3. Transfer the ham onto a cutting board and let cool slightly. Remove the meat from the bones, shred, and stir back into the soup (discard the bones and any skin). Remove bay leaves and season with salt, pepper and finish with white vinegar. To serve, dollop with sour cream (if using).

Pork & Potato Green Chili

I am besotted by Autumn, yet my love is unrequited. I wait at windows that darken imperceptibly earlier in the evening, willing the trees to burst into sunset hues, yearning for a chilling of the air that never comes, begging for the first crackling fire in the dusty fireplace.  Still, she does not heed my lament.  She unfurls day upon day of scorching heat, forcing tanned leaves to wither and serenely suicide without a hint of colorful fanfare.  She’ll arrive when she is ready, for her own selfish pleasure and not a moment sooner, no matter my desires. 

Despite this interminable summer weather, October in my kitchen means hearty soups and stews like this Pork and Potato Green Chili. 


Pork & Potato Green Chili

A hearty, spicy chili of tender pork and potatoes.


Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 fresh Anaheim chiles – seeded, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 ¼ pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 ½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 16-ounce jar salsa verde, medium heat
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • ½ cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • ¼ cup shredded cilantro

Directions

  1. In a soup pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add the chiles and onion and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened, 5 minutes. Add the pork; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until browned, 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, salsa and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, partially cover and simmer, stirring the chili occasionally, until the pork is tender, about 40 minutes.
  2. Add lime juice, season with salt and pepper, and divide among bowls. Garnish with the cheese and cilantro.

Slightly adapted from Rachel Ray

Slow Cooker Beef and Farro Soup

A bowl of Slow Cooker Beef and Farro Soup

Have friends over for dinner this weekend without all the work.  “Soup Sundays” is the low-key, fuss-free version of a full-blown dinner party.  For my inaugural Soup Sunday, I made two soups a few days ahead and, for dessert, baked a simple apple crostata with the booty from my apple-picking adventures on Saturday.  Friends brought bread and salad, we opened a few bottles of wine, and celebrated the first Sunday of October. 

I’ve decided to make it a weekly standing date.  Next Sunday, we’re making it even more casual with the “Pajama Party” edition. 


Slow Cooker Beef and Farro Soup

A low and slow simmer results in tender beef and chewy farro in this comforting and hearty soup. Just let time do its thing.


Ingredients

  • 8 cups unsalted beef stock
  • 1 ½ cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup uncooked farro
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 large thyme sprigs
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup unsalted tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 pounds beef stew meat, divided
  • 2 ½ cups chopped carrots

Directions

  1. In a 6-quart slow cooker, stir together beef stock, onion, celery, farro, salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves. Dollop tomato paste on top.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add half of beef and cook until well browned, about 6 minutes. Add beef to slow cooker. Repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and beef. Scatter carrots over beef. Cover and cook on LOW until meat is tender, about 8 hours. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Adjust salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls.

Salmon Corn Chowder

A bowl of Salmon Corn Chowder

Not a fish fan? The salmon can be replaced with shredded cooked chicken.

Culinary School flew by at such a rapid pace that I barely remember the basics. Today, 11 years later, I couldn’t tourne a potato to save my life, even though we spent weeks perfecting our technique. Knowledge was imparted by Chef, 90% of it sadly unretained by this student.

Someone recently asked me what defines a soup as “chowder” and, as that definition was probably somewhere in my missing 90%, I didn’t have a sufficient answer. Does using seafood make it chowder? Nope. Seafood is a standard ingredient, yes, but not a requirement. Does adding cream make it chowder? Chowders are often finished with cream, but they don’t have to be.

According to The Professional Chef, the tome we relied upon in school, chowder is defined as, “a soup that is thickened with flour, roux or potatoes.” Thank goodness “potatoes” were in that mix, because I’ve been calling this recipe “chowder” for years.

Who knew I could be validated by a potato.


Salmon Corn Chowder

A hearty soup loaded with salmon, bacon, sweet corn, and, of course, potatoes.


Ingredients

  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup brandy, white wine, or dry sherry
  • ¾ lb. potatoes, cut into ½” cubes
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups frozen or fresh corn
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups cooked salmon, cubed
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. In a large pot, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside. Add onion, carrot and celery to the bacon fat and cook until softened and beginning to brown.
  2. Add bay leaf, thyme, and brandy; reduce, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add potatoes and chicken stock, bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  3. Add corn and simmer until corn is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add heavy whipping cream, salmon, and reserved bacon. Simmer 10 more minutes, remove bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper.