This recipe takes a few ingredients, very little skill, and a huge helping of patience. Patience is a virtue. Or so I have been told. It is not something that comes naturally for me. Not that I’m impatient, per se. I like to think of myself as fairly average on the patience scale. Sometimes I delude myself into thinking I’m patient and then I’ll come across a truly patient person that puts my self-delusion in check.
Many years ago my friend B shared this recipe with me. The truth is, I don’t have the patience to make it the way that B does. It takes him two days. This is a problem. When I get a craving for something, I can’t wait 48 hours to have it. Or, more accurately, 48 hours later I’ll likely have moved on to some other craving. Over the years I’ve adapted the recipe. And by adapted, I mean I tried to find the perfect balance between eating it as soon as possible and giving the soup the time it needs for the various ingredients to meld into a single harmonious spicy rich flavor.
One of those adaptations is using canned tomatoes. You can use fresh roma tomatoes but it takes them quite awhile to cook down. It doesn’t seem to lose any flavor by adding canned diced tomatoes. As it is, this adaptation takes about 8 hours to cook and it can take longer if you leave it in the fridge overnight. It’s hard to fathom how complex, integrated and utterly satisfying the flavors of these few ingredients can get if you give it enough time.
I know what you are thinking – the whole impatience problem can be solved by a crockpot and a long day at work where you are thinking about your to-do list and your job stresses and not thinking about soup. I’ve tried that, but it doesn’t turn out quite the same in a crockpot. And frankly my to-do list and job stress just makes me long for a comforting and satisfying bowl of this spicy chicken soup all the more. Instead, I like to think of this as a Sunday kind of soup. The kind that you start making early and enjoy the aroma coming from kitchen as it simmers slowly all day.
But! You can freeze it. That is, of course, if you don’t become so addicted that you eat it for dinner/lunch/dinner consecutively until all that is left is tiny bits of tomato stuck to the bottom of the pot. I recommend setting aside a couple of servings in the freezer. You will forget it is there until you get sick or have a really crappy long day and the only thing on the planet that will make you feel the tiniest bit better is this soup – but you don’t have the energy to make it because you are sick or (since it is the end of that crappy super long day) you don’t have the time to make it. In that moment, you will remember you have some in the freezer and you will wish you had a time machine to go back and hug your former self for having the foresight to set some aside.
One of the best parts of this soup is adding toppings. I would argue that at the very minimum, you must add lime. “Must” may seem a little strong, but seriously – try it with a squeeze of fresh lime. It changes the flavor in the most delightful way and it just isn’t the same without it. Arguably this soup is also not complete without a large handful of cilantro and avocado on top. I added radishes for the first time the other day and was happy to have the added crunch.
Of course, tortillas or tortilla chips make a nice accompaniment too. Lately my paleo leanings have encouraged me to eat it with a large spoon rather than a tortilla in my hand, but it’s totally up to you. Enjoy!
Spicy Chicken Soup
This spicy chicken soup can feed a large group, and everyone can make it their own by adding toppings of their choice. It is also great to make with leftover turkey after Thanksgiving. If you don’t gobble it all up, it freezes really well too. In terms of level of spice, you can add or subtract the fresh peppers to fit your taste. Note that it takes awhile for the full heat of the chili peppers to integrate into the soup. It’s often spicier (and better) the next day after sitting in the fridge over night. If you aren’t following the paleo diet and aren’t concerned about gluten or dairy sensitivities, you can consider adding sour cream or cheese, and serving with fresh tortillas.
1 leftover roasted (or rotisserie) chicken
2 cans of diced tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
1-2 jalepeno peppers, diced
1/2-1 serrano chili, diced
1 small can of diced anaheim chilis
16-24 ounces of chicken broth
1 Tbs cumin
1 Tbs chili powder
salt to taste
cracked black pepper to taste
In a large stockpot, combine 16 ounces of chicken broth, onion, tomatoes, and fresh peppers. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes and then add canned peppers (do not drain), chicken pieces, cumin and chili powder. Simmer on low heat covered for 7-8 hrs. If too much liquid boils away, add more chicken broth a little at a time, up to 16 more ounces. After dishing soup into a bowl, add a few squeezes of fresh lime juice and top with desired garnishes such as chopped cilantro, avocado, and radishes. Store in fridge overnight and reheat the next day, bringing to a boil and then simmering for about 30 minutes for optimal flavor. Makes approx 10 servings.