Pumpkin Southwestern Chicken Soup
I love all things texmex – all of them (except when people put olives on nachos… seriously? olives? ew.) Anyway… this adoration really conflicts with my desire to eat healthy. Cheese, sour cream, refried beans, chips & guac… nom nom nom. SO, a few years ago I decided to make chicken tortilla soup. It’s pretty healthy considering, but still gives that delicious texmex flavor to dinner. Win win.
Then one fall I made a homemade pumpkin pie. Not like out of a can pumpkin, I mean like we roasted a pie pumpkin, pureed the pumpkin pulp etc. It took forever, but it was worth it. If you get the chance this year to make a from scratch pumpkin pie with fresh sugar pumpkin and honey etc. do it. But from this pumpkin pie, I had some leftover pumpkin puree. So, in true me fashion, I decided, why not make this into a soup? Why not combine good things then and make pumpkin chicken tortilla soup? And you know what? Great idea. So here’s how you make it. It helps if you have some left over roasted chicken around so you don’t have to make it just for soup. But you could if you want. Luckily I made a whole chicken the other day, so we had some in the house. This recipe won out over Southern chicken salad… it’s that good.
Step One: Get out your trusty crockpot (if you don’t own a crock pot, I GUESS you can use a pot on the stove. But really, just go get one. They’re not very expensive, and you don’t need a fancy one.) Set it to high.
Step Two: Chop up the basic soup veggies: onions, celery, carrots, garlic. Add in there some bell pepper too (and if you have some chop up a few jarred roasted red peppers). Then pour in a can or two of green chilies. If you have fresh ones, by all means use those. I also toss in 1 chopped seeded (aka take out the seeds) jalapeno. But that’s optional of course.
Step Three: Add some more stuff! A few cups of chicken broth (I use the box kind, but if you have your own around, that’s good too!), and a few handfuls of leftover roasted chicken (If you don’t have any cooked chicken you have two options: either cook up a chicken breast/a few thighs on the stove and shread, or throw them into the crockpot raw and shread after fully cooked which they will be after a few hours). With that you need to pile on black beans and pumpkin puree too. As I’m too lazy right now to make pumpkin puree from scratch, I used the ubiquitous fall canned pumpkin this time.
Step Four: Ok, you’re almost there. Easiest part: add a couple cups of water. Or, if you have any leftover white wine like I did (perhaps something you didn’t like), you can add a cup or so of that instead. Both good.
Step Five: Spices time! Cumin (at least 3 teaspoons), chili powder (same amount here), salt (a pinch or two), black pepper (fresh pepper corns if you have them). The sneakiest ingredient here, to bring out the pumpkin…. nutmeg (add at least 1.5 teaspoons… to taste of course like everything else. I like a bit more)
Step Five: Put the lid on and leave the crock pot alone on high for about 4 hours. This makes this an ideal candidate for all day or all night cooking (if you leave it all day, feel free to go down to low, it’ll get to a boil at low after about 5 hours). BUT while you’re waiting… you should make some pico de gallo for the top.
BONUS STEP: Pico de gallo. Chop up 1/2 an onion (red is best, any works), 1/2 a jalapeno (again, w/o seeds) one or two tomatoes, and cilantro to taste (the more the better in my book). Pinch of salt on top is optional. You can also add 1/2 a chopped avocado if you’re feeling so inclined.
When you serve your soup, dollop some of this pico mix right in the middle before eating/serving. Adds a little kick, and the cilantro isn’t too soaked in the soup this way. Perfect (and lovely I might add)