Single Girl Soup: Whatever’s In The House Chicken Tortilla

Sure, put that in there.

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My one-cup ration of soup that wasn’t forced immediately into the freezer.

I don’t always eat what I cook. This soup is always made with the notion that I’ll have a bad cold or flu someday soon and I won’t want to order Seamless soup that tastes like the styrofoam container it biked to my apartment in, so I’m never more than defrosting away from something yummy, homemade, and comforting. And spicy, because I’m me.

Chicken tortilla soup is also a great soup to make when summer is being an asshole and outwearing its welcome well into what would normally be considered fall. A good crossover soup, if you will. I make this whenever I realize I already have all of its ingredients lying around the house. It’s very easy to substitute ingredients or leave them out altogether if you don’t have them. I’ve made suggestions in the ingredients list below. Or make your own, live your life.

There are two secrets to this soup: First, make it in a crockpot. Crockpots are my favorite cooking appliance of all time. I desperately want one that looks like a cauldron, because it seems fitting and also I am obviously a sorceress. The second secret is that you add in enchilada sauce to the soup. Sounds weird, tastes amazing. I make my own enchilada sauce (so you know you’re not putting any kind of crap into an otherwise very healthy soup), and I’ve included that recipe at the end of this post. It’s very, very easy, calm down.

As with all my recipes, this doesn’t make a ton of soup. You’ll probably get three freezable portions or two freezies with one to eat right now because we’re all impatient animals.

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One very fresh onion and a jalapeño on its last viable day.
  • Four boneless, skinless chicken breasts (you don’t need to cook them first)
  • Three cups chicken broth (I don’t make my own)
  • 1 can roasted tomatoes with green chilies (or roast your own, or used crushed tomatoes, or diced tomatoes without the chilies, really anything will work)
  • Homemade enchilada sauce* or some sauce from a jar you peasant
  • About 1/4 of an onion, diced
  • A little bit of jalapeño, chopped as finely as possible (wear gloves or put your contact lenses in BEFORE you do this part). This isn’t mandatory by the way, I just happened to have one that was about to go bad and figured what the hell.
  • Some corn (I had a little baggie of frozen corn from the farmer’s market)
  • Some black beans (Same, small baggie of frozen leftovers)
  • A couple cloves of crushed garlic (I didn’t have any so I just used garlic powder, which was fine I think)
  • Cumin (a dash or five)
  • Chili powder (same measuring here)
  • Cayenne (I put cayenne in everything — be sparing about this if you’re using jalapeño or you’ll melt your face right off)
  • 1 bay leaf (If you don’t have any, do NOT make a special trip to the store. Just pick some up next time and stick them in the back of the pantry for the seven other random recipes you’ll make this year that need it.)
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • juice of one lime (Fun fact, I freeze lime juice into ice cubes and pour beer over them in the summer, together with cayenne pepper frozen into ice cubes, which makes for very yummy, spicy beer. I had a few left over frozen lime cubes but no fresh limes, so I dropped one of these bad boys in the crockpot. Not ideal, but effective.)
  • Crushed tortilla chips as garnish, optional but encouraged
  • One crockpot
  • Half a Sunday unless you’re the kind of person who is comfortable leaving the house with the crockpot on. I am not.
  • Put everything except the corn, black beans, and lime juice in a crock pot.
  • Turn the crockpot on high (put the lid on for crying out loud)
  • Cook for 2–3 hours
  • Remove chicken, shred it like a wild beast, and then return it to the crockpot. (If you don’t have claws, just use two forks. Growl as you do this, it helps.)
  • Add corn, black beans, and lime juice to crock pot
  • Cook for another hour
  • Eat, or freeze into individual portions until you get sick or bored, then eat
  • Have absolutely no fun washing your crockpot by hand.
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This is what finished enchilada sauce looks like when you pour it into an empty sour cream container.

*As promised, here’s how you make enchilada sauce, adapted from this recipe. I prepare the spice mixture as if I’m making a whole recipe, but then only use half the spices and half the broth. Put the rest of the spices in a little baggie so its easier to make this stuff next time you don’t need very much of it. Or just make the whole damn thing, I don’t care. Make sure you have all ingredients prepped before you start cooking this, it comes together fast and you’ll make a mess if you don’t prepare…I’ve heard…

  • Spice blend (3 tbs flour, 2tbs chili powder, 1tsp cumin, 1tsp garlic powder, a pinch of oregano, pinch of cinnamon, salt & pepper to taste)
  • Two tablespoons or one giant tablespoon tomato paste (I freeze the rest of the can into one-tablespoon portions for later use.)
  • Some olive oil
  • 1 cup broth (vegetable or chicken)
  • Splash of apple cider vinegar
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This is what the spice blend looks like.

Heat olive oil in a pot, then add in spice mixture and whisk around for about a minute. Then add in tomato paste, keep whisking, and add in broth slowly, whisky whisky still. Reduce heat to just barely medium and cook at a simmer for about 5 minutes, whisking often. Remove from heat, at splash of apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper, and let cool. (Sauce will thicken more as it cools.)

Add this to your tortilla soup, or make actual enchiladas, that’s also an option. During fall and winter I make crockpot pulled pork + black bean enchiladas that are eyebrow-bleaching delicious and I’ll certainly share that recipe with you at some point. Now go cook something or Netflix something or take a walk and enjoy the day. I’m going to go try to make a new pumpkin pasta dish to take to work as lunch for the week so let’s hope I don’t ruin it, hmm?

Next: Single Girl Soup: Late-Summer Tomato Leek

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NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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