Stone Soup. With Chicken, Cheese, Spices, and Tortilla Chips.
When I was a kid, I had a book called Stone Soup. It was about a hungry traveler who wandered into a village one day, but none of the suspicious villagers would offer him anything to eat. So he somehow found (or brought?) this giant pot, filled it with water, and stuck a stone inside. A curious villager walked by, and asked the traveler what he was doing.
“Why, I’m making stone soup!” he said. “It really is an excellent dish — rich and hearty, but could really be so much better with just a few carrots.”
Intrigued, the villager ran home, grabbed some carrots, and tossed them into the soup.
After that, villager after villager stopped by to learn about the interesting soup, and each one contributed something — plump chicken, fresh herbs, hearty vegetables — to “help” the stone reach its full potential as a primary soup ingredient. At the end, they all enjoyed delicious stone soup together, and the traveler was heralded as some sort of culinary genius.
Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time, but while reading this as a kid, I was learning a valuable lesson about
how to trick people into giving you what you want sharing.
And now that the weather is properly chilly, I couldn’t help but think of stone soup last night as I made Nearly Famous Chicken Tortilla Soup contributed to TastyKitchen.com by Sommer from A Spicy Perspective.
As usual, head on over to her site for much better photography and a printable version of her fantastic recipe.
I only recently started getting into soup. Last year’s post-hard drive crashing discovery of Spicy Tuscan Soup made me realize that soup should be the comfort food of choice come winter.
Aside from the requisite prep work of chopping ingredients, soup requires very little effort with very big rewards.
And this one — This Chicken Tortilla Soup — is definitely no exception.
*All of the following photos are examples of why it’s so important to have natural light with food photography. Unfortunately for you, I’m not willing to cook my dinner at 3 in the afternoon, so you’ll have to deal with my funky light photography.
To make it, you will need:
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 small chopped onion
- 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (divided)
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic (yep, I cheated this time and used the pre-minced stuff)
- 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes (the recipe doesn’t say whether these should be drained, so I drained them.)
- 3/4 Tbsp. ground cumin (Can I please take a moment to say how much I love cumin? It’s my favorite spice.)
- 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 2 whole bay leaves
- 4 cups chicken broth (I used the chicken goop stuff that makes broth when added to boiling water. I hear it’s better than the bouillon cubes, and if you look at the ingredients, I think you’ll agree.)
- 2 large carrots, sliced thin
- 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed (optional — this isn’t part of the recipe, but I added them. Because I’m crazy like that.)
- 1 whole chicken breast, sliced thin (this means both breasteses. If you buy your meat at a meat counter, you can get the whole breast, which is 2 halves attached in the center. If you buy the packaged stuff at the grocery store, what you’re really getting is chicken breast halves. So in that case, use 2.)
- 1 1/2 c. freshly grated Monterrey Jack cheese (divided)
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1 c. crushed tortilla chips, plus extra for garnish
- 1 avocado, sliced (for garnish)
1) Heat the 2 Tbsp. of oil in a large pot, then saute the onion and 1/3 cup cilantro and 1 Tbsp. garlic for 3-4 minutes.
2) Add the can of diced tomatoes, 3/4 Tbsp. cumin, 1/2 Tbsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper. Stir it around and smell the goodness and let it get nice and hot.
3) Add the 4 cups of chicken broth, then toss in the carrots, bay leaves, and raw sliced chicken breasts. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and let the carrots and meat cook for 10-12 minutes. Also, this is where you can add that optional can of rinsed black beans.
4) This is where we get a little crazy. Take out the bay leaves, then stir in half of the Monterrey Jack cheese (or, if you’re like me, grate extra and stir in about a cup of cheese).
Then, crush up a cup of tortilla chips (I find that placing the chips inside a ziploc bag and using a wine bottle to do the crushing works nicely), and toss those into the soup as well.
Spoon it up into a bowl, add some more cheese, sliced avocado (this is a must), and a few more tortilla chips.
Make this today. If you’re really smart, you’ll start with a rock in a pot of water and get your neighbors to do the rest.
But if you decide to do it yourself, I think you’ll find it’s not that hard.