Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Playdate Special: Chicken Tortilla Soup

091106_tortilla soup_1

The domestic front has been a scene of chaos, with sweeping and dish washing and laundry and tidying all ignored as I plow through an intimidating pile of work. In the background, there's been the low buzz of disgruntled parents trying to figure out if, when, and where they can get flu vaccine to their kids, and fretting over the slightest colds.

This calls for soup. Chicken soup, specifically.

A deep, flavorful stock is essential for this soup. If you've never made your own stock, this is the time to try it. (It's easy, honest. Here's how to do it.) Orange peel adds a lovely bright note, and this particular dish included the very last of the cheerful persimmon tomatoes from the garden. The fact that it looked like a bowl of sunshine almost made up for the last-minute discovery that I had no cilantro to finish the soup. Phooey. But with stock this flavorful, it didn't matter. Much.

Soup satisfied the moms. The kids were offered quesadillas on the side, just in case they turned up their noses at the sight of vegetables. But most of them enjoyed the soup, and one even asked for seconds. Success!

Dessert was a simple apple pie, studded with raisins and currants and baked in a disappointing but serviceable refrigerated crust. It looked much better once it was dished out onto adorable Curious George tea set plates.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

091106_tortilla soup_2
Good broth is essential to making this soup sing. Use homemade stock, if you can. To bake your own tortilla strips, lightly brush corn tortillas with vegetable oil, cut into strips, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 can diced tomatoes, drained, or about 1 1/2 cups fresh tomatoes peeled, seeded, and chopped
4 strips of orange peel, each about 1/2 inch by 3 inches
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans
juice from 1/2 a lime
fresh cilantro, chopped, to taste
salt and pepper
1/4 cup queso fresco cheese, crumbled (this Mexican cheese can be found in your grocery or at Latino markets)
baked tortilla strips or chips (see note)

Heat oil in stockpot over medium heat. Add onion and carrots and saute until onions begin to soften. Add stock, tomatoes, and orange peel. Simmer for 25 minutes.
Remove orange peel. Add chicken and black beans, and simmer 3 minutes. Stir in lime, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon soup into serving bowls. Encourage the kids to top their soup with a sprinkle of queso fresco and tortilla strips, with a generous handful of tortilla strips to enjoy on the side.

1 comment:

Shawn Mawhiney said...

My 6-year-old son Patrick has a playdate this Sunday and I was thinking more along the lines of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But now I'm inspired! Darienne, this is really cool. You should check out Backus Hospital's nutrition microsite, www.backushospital.org/nutrition. Jeff Evans (who you probably rememember from the Norwich Bulletin), our designer Beth Jepsen, your former and my current boss Keith Fontaine and I created the site, and Jeff does really fun videos with our dietitians that we call the "Nutrition Detectives." It's not your average hospital microsite. I was wondering -- we have a "Kids Corner" and maybe we could somehow link to your site and you could link to ours.


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