I love the early mornings of Fall. I open the back door and step out into the cool air just to see if it’s colder than the day before. I take a deep breath. It smells delicious. It’s fresh and clean, not 90+ degrees. Yay!
Soups quickly return to the weekly menu when the weather cools down and one of our family favorites is Chicken Tortilla Soup. It’s full of bold, bright flavors and colors. It’s just spicy enough to warm you all the way through on a cool night.
My 6 year old son, Judah, came bouncing through the kitchen this afternoon, “What’s cookin’? Smells amazing!”, he asked, sticking his head into the pot on the stove to take in a big whiff of the warm and rich spices that were filling the room. “Oooh, tortilla soup!,” he recognized it immediately, “Can I help?”.
A very wise and sweet little grandma once gave me the advice to never cook or clean alone. Both are more enjoyable when you are with those you love. When children are small, letting them “help” in the kitchen or around the house can feel like more work – it is, but soon enough you’ll notice something they have done right and well and realize they are actually helping and it’s more fun to have their company.
Judah loves to grate cheese. I don’t. By the end of the block my tricep hurts and I wonder how I got so out of shape that cooking is a workout? I think he loves it because he knows that he can grab a few pinches here and there while he is grating away. That’s a rule in my kitchen, “The chef gets to taste the ingredients and the food until it’s just right”. Any chef, big or small. They love picking and trying things as we cook. I love that they are experimenting with flavors and getting really comfortable around ingredients that create good meals. And inevitably, anything they help make they are more excited to eat.
So delegate jobs to those little people gathered around the kitchen wondering what smells so good and when it’s going to be ready. They are probably “STARVING!”, after all, they haven’t eaten in at least an hour.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 Whole Chicken (I used to take the time to roast it myself, then I had twins. So now I am buying a rotisserie chicken at Whole Foods and trusting they are loving that bird as much as I would at home. You do whatever feels right.)
3 bell peppers (red, green, yellow)
1 fresh jalapeño
1 purple onion
4-8 cloves of garlic chopped (I use more if anyone has sniffles!)
1 28oz can of roasted tomatoes
4-6 cups of chicken stock (homemade is best. Don’t ask how I can make homemade stock, but no longer roast a chicken. I have to draw the line somewhere, right?)
A can of black beans – drained and rinsed
1 cup of frozen corn
A bunch of cilantro roughly chopped
Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a stock pot, then add diced onion, peppers, garlic and a packet of taco seasoning. Sauté until tender, 3-5min. Add in the tomatoes and the chicken stock and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 10min. Add shredded chicken, black beans and frozen corn. Allow to heat through for about 3min then add the cilantro.
Prepare your serving bowls while the soup is simmering with some diced (or smashed so more finicky eaters are less offended by its chunky presence) avocado with fresh lime juice squeezed on top. I use 1/2 of a lime per bowl.
Ladle in the soup into and top with shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream. And say, “dollop” when you drop it on there. It will make your little helpers laugh.
- 1 Whole Chicken
- 3 bell peppers (red, green, yellow)
- 1 fresh jalapeño
- 1 purple onion
- 4-8 cloves of garlic chopped (I use more if anyone has sniffles!)
- 1 28oz can of roasted tomatoes
- 4-6 cups of chicken stock
- A can of black beans - drained and rinsed
- 1 cup of frozen corn
- Taco seasoning
- A bunch of cilantro roughly chopped
- Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a stock pot
- add diced onion, peppers, garlic and a packet of taco seasoning.
- Sauté until tender, 3-5min.
- Add in the tomatoes and the chicken stock and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 10min.
- Add shredded chicken, black beans and frozen corn. Allow to heat through for about 3min then add the cilantro.
- Prepare your serving bowls while the soup is simmering with some diced avocado with fresh lime juice squeezed on top. I use ½ of a lime per bowl.
- Top with shredded cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream. Serve with a nice helping of tortilla chips on the side.