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    Kitchen Sink Chicken Tortilla Soup

    November 15, 2011 by Brandy Vencel

    I am back into the swing of my cold-weather cooking rhythm. This means that almost every week, I roast two whole chickens. The first night, we eat some of the meat with our meal, but the rest of the meat is cut off the bone and saved to put into various soups. The bones and giblets are boiled to make broth {gallons and gallons to be exact}, and…ta da! Any sort of chicken soup is half-made already!

    I love soup season.

    I call this my kitchen sink soup because you can put just about anything in it {except the kitchen sink}. Here’s what you need:

    • Chicken broth
    • Chicken meat, cooked and diced
    Here are all of the various options for ingredients:
    • Onions
    • Potatoes
    • Turnip
    • Carrots
    • Celery
    • Parsnip
    • Green beans {frozen or fresh}
    • Sweet potato
    • Zucchini {or other squash}
    • Handful of spinach {or other leafy green}
    • Cabbage {up to half of one will work}
    • Rutabaga
    • 1 cup dried black beans {or 1-2 cans black beans}
    • Anything else you have on hand
    I find the trick with this is to use lots of the things that are easier on the taste buds {like onions, potatoes, carrots, and celery} while using only one of the things that are stronger {parsnips, turnips, and rutabaga come to mind}. I rarely have everything on this list on hand, and it taste just fine as long as there are a variety of veggies.
    The method is simple, too. If you are using dried beans, you have to think ahead. soak them in warm water and vinegar {about a tablespoon} beginning the day before.  A couple hours before dinner, rinse the beans {they will have expanded while they soaked} and put them in a soup kettle and cover with broth. I use about 2 quarts of broth in this step. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, but keep them at a little more than a simmer. I find black beans require a more vigorous cooking time.
    An hour to an hour-and-a-half later, go chop up whatever vegetables you wish to include and throw them in the pot, along with the cooked chicken meat. Add more broth to cover, if necessary. {I usually need to add another quart.}
    Here is the really hard part: simmer until vegetables are tender.
    I know! Soup is so intimidating like that!
    At some point, you have to season it. I usually do that at the end, when the veggies have added their full flavor to the mix. Here is what to add:
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 tsp thyme
    • 1-2 tsp cumin
    It’s the cumin that does it for me every time…one of my favorite spices!
    And finally, the part my children always look forward to…toppings. Ideas include {but are not limited to}:
    • Green onions
    • Tortilla chips
    • Sliced black olives
    • Shredded cheese {we use cheddar and monterey jack}
    • Avocado slices {’tis the season…they are coming off the tree daily}
    • Sour cream
    • Salsa
    We do not ever use all of these toppings at once, but we always have some of them because this is what makes it fun.
    Any of you have a “kitchen sink” recipe you love to use this time of year?

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  • Reply Kansas Mom November 16, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Butchering our own chicken means we often peel the skin off and throw the whole thing (in chunks) in a pot. Best chicken soup I ever had. I’ll see if I can remember where the recipe is.

    The best roasting recipe we’ve used is in a cookbook called “a bird in the oven.” It’s the simple sea salt roast, though we decrease the salt and put roasted veggies underneath.

  • Reply Go quickly and tell November 15, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    I call it *Must Go Soup*

    Everything leftover in the ‘fridge (or sometimes freezer) MUST GO.

    It is never the same.

    I either usually have frozen stock (ham, turkey), but am not opposed to vegetable broth (I keep those little cubes in the cupboard -health food store variety).

    For lunch today I enjoyed a black-eyed pea and sausage concoction.

    Here’s a link to my soups category from both of my blogs…

    Happy Soup Season~!

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts November 15, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    It has taken me *years* to learn to roast an edible chicken. I mean, it always yielded meat that worked in soups, but for a long time it was rare that it really tasted good eaten alone.

    I cannot remember where I found it, but I use a recipe for roasting a chicken in about an hour. It takes me longer because I do *two* at a time, and it seems like that shouldn’t matter, but in my oven, at least, it does. Anyhow, the first tip is roasting breast-side-up. I know they say that down makes for a juicier breast, but my problem has always been that I can’t get it *done* like that–we end up not eating until 7pm because the breast is still pink!

    Anyhow, I start very hot–450 I think. Every 15-20 minutes I baste and lower the temp by 25 degrees until I get to 375 or 350, and then I leave it there to finish up {but keep basting!}. I have tried basting less, but it dries out too much, so I just set a timer and baste every time it goes off. And that’s it! It is usually done in an hour and a half, but if they were cold in the fridge or larger than usual, it can take two hours…

    During the summer I bought chicken thighs weekly and thought I could make broth from those. I tried it, and I used the “broth” which resulted, but it was very weak. I couldn’t believe what a difference it made to use the whole chicken! I definitely see why you’d want to conquer it.

    For a while when I was very bad at roasting chickens I actually just threw them entirely in a pot and boiled them. Then I pulled the meat out while I was straining the broth and used *all* of it for soups {or I made chicken salad sandwiches}. That is an option, too, I guess…felt like more work, though.

  • Reply Mystie November 15, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    I treat every recipe like a kitchen sink recipe. 🙂 I’m terrible at following other people’s directions.

    Here’s my silly thing. My husband has suggested I not buy whole chickens anymore, because I simply can’t get them to roast well! I can’t believe it, but they always take a long time, turn out dry, have questionable parts (not cooked through in places)….I have no idea what I do wrong, but I have not had a roasted chicken success in years. I suspect it has something to do with my “fancy pants” oven (came with the house) with 10 settings that I haven’t fully figured out yet. At least, I’d like to blame it on the oven. Crockpot works, but the meat isn’t that good, really.

    But if I can’t roast chicken, how can I get broth?! Seems like something I need to conquer. At least turkey season is almost upon us. I seem to do fine with turkeys, though perhaps it is that I expect it to take half a day to cook.

    Roasted root veggie soup is delicious, too. Any medley of roasted root veggies (we have it for a side dish one night). Then blend the veggies with broth and simmer with seasonings. Easy and yummy! Roating the veggies brings out their sweetness more than if you just simmer them in the broth.

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