This Southwestern style chicken soup features the great base of Latino cooking: sofrito. While there are many, many variations of sofrito throughout Spain, Portugal, and Latin America, my version consists of onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, and garlic. All the flavor of this comforting soup bubbles up from that heavenly combination. Sofrito is a great cooking basic to be aware of because so many dishes are built upon it. I find that once you get a handle on the basic flavor combinations of a regional cuisine, you can cook just about anything from that area of the world.
You may be thinking, soup in the summer? What gives? Here’s the thing. If you know anyone with Latin roots, you’ll know that soup is an all year round meal. It doesn’t matter what the thermometer says, a hot home-cooked meal is on the menu at least once a day. I grew up with my father (who hails from the Dominican Republic) enjoying soup at every lunchtime repast. To this day he insists on a good cup of soup to accompany his midday meal. And I believe he’s onto something there. Warm soup, spicy foods, they all help you sweat it out on a hot day, consequently cooling the body down.
But apart from the practicalities of hot dishes in the summer, soup is just so feel-good satisfying. When you are out of ideas for what to do with a bountiful harvest, it’s always a good option. In this dish alone I was able to put to use my squash, green bell pepper, corn, and jalapeno. And the condiments I chose reflect the bits and pieces I had in my fridge and pantry at the time. Use your imagination to dress up this soup and you’ll find you’ve created a real fridge cleaner that also happens to deliver mucho sabor.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed if you like, finely chopped (for the mildest soup, skip the jalapeno altogether as the chipotle chile adds some heat as well)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile
1 1/2 quarts good quality chicken stock
3/4 pound chicken breast (2 to 3 chicken breasts)
1 medium bonita squash, coarsely chopped (2 1/2 to 3 cups chopped) (or substitute zucchini or any other summer squash)
2 cups corn kernels (from about 2 ears)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 can (15 1/2 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup lime juice
Salt to taste
Queso fresco, avocado, cilantro, hot sauce, and tortilla chips, to serve
- In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion, pepper, and jalapeno and cook, stirring for 8 to 10 minutes without coloring, until soft. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, and chipotle and cook, stirring for 1 minute, until fragrant.
- Pour in the stock with 2 cups water, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Add the chicken, lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook 8 to 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through but still tender.
- Remove the chicken from the soup, place on a cutting board and, when cool enough to handle, shred the chicken with two forks or your hands.
- Meanwhile, add the squash, corn, cilantro, and beans and cook, uncovered, about 5 minutes, until the squash is tender.
- Return the shredded chicken to the pot with the lime juice and remove from the heat. Season to taste with salt and serve the soup with all the Southwest fixings you like.
Nutritional analysis based on 8 servings, does not include serving suggestions:
Calories 240, Fat 7g, Sodium 452mg, Carbohydrate 27g, Fiber 4g, Sugar 4g, Protein 19g