First and Ten with Tortilla Soup

It’s Thursday night and at this point in the football season I actually can’t eat another piece of pizza or another hot wing. Bad news. But whether or not you are willing to admit it like I am, we all know we’re excited to see something else on the table. Enter tortilla soup. It’s a crowd pleaser and something that can simmer all day long in the slow cooker while you’re a work.  The add-ons also let individuals control their preferred heat level making this a one pot dish that will please every palate!

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Similar to my chili “recipe” you can customize to your preferences/what you have on hand. The concept is the same: use what you have and pay attention to the treatment of the ingredients and ratios of liquids to vegetables to meats. In this particular case, I cooked and shredded some chicken, sautéed an onion, a clove of garlic, some celery and a quart of canned tomatoes the night before.  Make sure you get all the “bits” off the pan and into the slow cooker, or even deglaze with stock to get all the FLAVOR into the soup.  I let the onions, garlic, celery, tomatoes and stock simmer all night long. Then in the morning I give it a quick puree with an emersion blender to smooth out the vegetables.  Before I leave for work, I add about half a jar of salsa, corn kernels, diced green bell pepper, the shredded chicken and about a cup of cooked black beans. If I feel like I have too much liquid I will also throw in a some rice.  Add a generous amount of cumin, chopped cilantro, smoked paprika, red chili pepper or even cayenne, and salt to taste. *Do keep in mind that you can always add more spices but you can’t take them out.  Add and taste. Then taste again, and add.  Don’t be afraid to be creative here!  Let all these flavors swim around in the slow cooker on low all.day.long.

Since this is a soup, you’ll need to entice guests with the garnishes.  I like to dice some jalapeños, shred some cheddar, Monterey jack or even pepper jack, slice limes and then top with greek yogurt (or sour cream, whatever your fancy) and tortilla chips.  The mixture of fresh textures and flavors with the spices will give guests a hearty meal (to go with beer) and a powerful flavor (to go with beer) that’s a game winner!

Can’t handle the lack of instruction?  Inspiration from Pioneer Woman.

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