Monday, March 1, 2010

Mexican Rice Soup

I cheated. I admit it, I buy industrial sized taco seasoning as its cheaper and easier to grab it at Costco than concoct my own from scratch. It is definitely way cheaper than buying those little packets of taco seasoning from the grocery store. Prolly wouldn't be that difficult, but what the heck sometimes it has to be about convenience.

The soup itself is inspired by a chicken and rice soup I had years ago as a starter at a Mexican joint in old Tuscon AZ. The addition of the corn was my idea to add some sweetness to calm the otherwise spicy-ish soup. Worked quite well if I say so myself.

Mexican Rice Soup

  • 1 yellow onion finely diced
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 1 T garlic minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 C mixed rice (white, brown, wild or substitute all white)
  • 2 14 oz cans chicken broth
  • 3 T taco seasoning
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
  • 12 oz cooked chicken diced
  • 8 oz frozen corn

Add olive oil to coat the bottom of a stock pot over medium-low heat. Cook onion and bell pepper and 1/4 t salt, saute until onions are caramelized. Add rice and garlic, cook 1 minute stirring constantly so as to not burn the garlic.

Add chicken, broth, taco seasoning and black pepper to the pot. Increase heat and bring to boil. Test seasoning and add more salt if needed. Reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour covered until rice is cooked through. Add corn at end and stir in until thawed and heated through, should take only a minute or two. (You don't want to over cook the corn so it looses its tender crisp texture).

Butternut and Red Pepper Soup

In continuance of my living in a healthier way goal for the New Year here is another version of my tried and true Butternut Squash soup. Just enough zing and extra sweetness to make this variation stand on its own as its own recipe. This is one that tastes as good if not a bit better on the second day.

After a whiz in the blender there isn't much left to do with this soup except bring to a simmer and let it cook away for another 10-15 minutes or so to let the flavors really blend together. Swapping out vegetable stock for the chicken broth would also turn this into a "vegan delight". You would never know from its creamy texture that it is in fact lacking cream which makes this a very heart healthy soup and great for any reduced calorie dieting. Adding in a salad and some garlic bread rounds out the soup to be a complete meal.
The secret if there is one is allowing the onions and red pepper to caramelize together so you get the full sweetness off of both to stand out in the soup without the raw onion or pepper bite. It takes a good 10-15 minutes over med-low heat to achieve the caramelization but it is worth it in the final product.

Butternut and Red Pepper Soup

  • 1 medium butternut squash - large dice
  • 1 yellow onion coarse diced
  • 1 red bell pepper coarse diced
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 t ground ginger
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • 2 14oz cans chicken broth

In microwave safe dish with a lid add the butternut squash and micro cook 15 minutes or until the squash is soft. (I use a 1200 watt nuker so you will need to adjust time to match your machine).

Place onions and bell pepper in large stock pot with just enough evoo to coat the bottom of the pan. Add about 1/4 t salt and cook slowly, stirring often until caramelized about 10-15 minutes.

Add the onion and bell pepper with about 1/3 of the cooked squash with 1 can chicken broth and blend until pureed. Add to stock pot. Repeat with remaining squash and can of broth. Add ginger and cayenne pepper. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes to warm soup through and meld the flavors. Serve hot as an appetizer or with bread and salad for a full meal.