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~ Easy Does It: Mexican Chicken & Spicy Rice Soup ~

IMG_6960For the most part, I find recipes made from a melange of leftover "this and that" to be a compromise.  With every forkful, they remind me I'm eating a week's worth of leftovers, repurposed to make me feel less guilty about their inevitable demise.  After a few bites, I find myself wishing I'd left well enough alone: made a sandwich out of the chicken, cooked a steak to go with last night's rice, or, eaten the blanched broccoli and carrots hand-to-mouth as a snack.  

"Waste not, want not."  It's admirable -- rah-rah-zis-boom-bah and count me in.  That said, it's my opinion that foodies with the need and/or desire to repurpose leftovers to feed themselves and their family need to be supplied with better recipes for leftovers.  This is not an elitist statement. It's hard-core-culinary honesty.  While generic chicken-rice-veggie casseroles with the standard cream-of-cheesy profile are tasty-to-a-degree, I long-ago vowed to turn my leftovers over to science -- so I could experiment creatively, with my own recipes that don't scream "leftover".

Got chicken?  Got Rice?  Got thirty minutes?

IMG_6963A great soup that doesn't taste one bit like leftovers.

IMG_6903For the soup:

2  tablespoons corn or vegetable oil

1 1/2  cups diced yellow or sweet onion

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

1  teaspoon each: ground cumin, granulated garlic powder, dried Mexican Oregano, sea salt and coarse-grind black pepper

1  4 1/2-ounce can chopped green chiles, undrained

1  15-ounce can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes, undrained

1  15-ounce can black beans, well-drained and rinsed

4  cups chicken stock

2  cups leftover cooked Goya yellow rice mix, prepared as package directs with the addition of 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes to the water while the rice cooks

2-3  cups generically-seasoned* poached- or roasted- and shredded chicken breast &/or thigh meat (*Note:  This recipe is full of Mexican-style flavor.  Obviously, last night's leftover Indian- or Thai-spiced chicken have no place here.)

IMG_6944For the toppings:

Mexican crema, about 1 tablespoon per serving (sour cream may be substituted without compromise)

1/4-1/2 cup minced cilantro leaves, about 1-2 teaspoons per serving

lime wedges, 1 per serving

tortilla chips, for accompaniment (optional but highly recommended for a crunchy side-snack to your soup-dinner)

IMG_6906 IMG_6906Step 1.  In a 4-quart sauce placed over low heat, heat, warm the oil.  Add the diced onion, ground cumin, granulated garlic powder, Mexican oregano, sea salt and coarse-grind black pepper. Give the mixture a good stir, then increase heat to medium- medium-high and sauté until the seasoned onion is soft and translucent, 5-6 minutes.

IMG_6913 IMG_6913 IMG_6913 IMG_6913 IMG_6927 IMG_6927~Step 2.  Stir in the chopped green chiles, the fire-roasted tomatoes and the (drained and rinsed) black beans.  Add the chicken stock, adjust heat to a gentle, steady simmer and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes.  This is a well-seasoned broth.

IMG_6936 IMG_6936 IMG_6936~ Step 3.  Stir in the cooked rice and the shredded chicken.  The moment the soup is steaming and showing signs of returning to a simmer, turn the heat off.  Cover the saucepan and allow the soup time to steep on the still hot stovetop for 15-20 minutes, to allow the flavors just enough time to marry.

Ladle into desired-sized bowls & garnish each portion...

IMG_6968... w/crema, cilantro & lime is nice.  Leftovers?  No way.  

IMG_6973Easy Does It:  Mexican Chicken & Spicy Rice Soup:  Recipe yields 2 generous quarts of easy-to-make soup/4-6 hearty main-dish servings.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 4-quart saucepan w/lid; large spoon; ladle

IMG_0749Cook's Note:  For another Mexican-style soup, one that's all it's crocked-up to be, my recipe for ~ Crockpot Chicken & Enchilada Soup ~, is one you gotta try.  Set it, forget it and six hours later, this enchilada-style soup is ready to be topped with habanero cheddar, deep-fried tortilla whisps and a dollop of crema.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)


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