Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Barefoot Contessa’s Mexican Chicken Soup & Our Very Own Homemade Tortilla Strips for Garnish


One of the things I like about recipes from Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) is that you always can count on them to turn out great. This soup is no exception. It’s rich tasting yet not filling, feeds a multitude, is colorful, can be spicy if you choose to include some of the seeds from the jalapenos, and will take care of any cravings you have for Mexican food.

There’s also a bonus recipe in this or what you might call “a recipe within a recipe.” In the first step, Ina cooks the chicken breasts in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 35 to 45 minutes and they come out juicy, tender, and delicious. I use this method almost exclusively now as my go-to recipe when I want roasted chicken breasts. As an example, they are perfect for chicken salads and sliced chicken sandwiches. Plus the recipe is foolproof, easy, and has become a staple in my kitchen.  For that reason I sometimes cook the chicken ahead (since I’m roasting them anyway for another meal) and leave them covered in the refrigerator until I start to prep the ingredients for this soup.

Speaking of tortilla chips, when we were ready to garnish the soup for the photo, I said to my photographer (who also happens to be my husband Meakin), “Take a look at the photo of the soup in Ina’s cookbook. It looks like she made her own chips instead of using store bought ones. I’d love to do that, but I don’t want to add more fat and calories to this recipe by frying tortillas.”

Great cook as he is, he replied, “Give me the corn tortillas you have left in the refrigerator. I’m going to try something. If it turns out good, we’ll share it. If it doesn’t, we won’t. Fair enough?”

Fair enough indeed. It was a huge success, so here’s Meakin’s method of making homemade strips of corn tortillas without frying them to garnish Ina’s Mexican soup.


Homemade Tortilla Chips/Strips 

Using 6” white corn tortillas, cut into ½” strips. On one side spray with a cooking spray such as Pam, sprinkle with kosher salt and smoked sweet paprika (also known as Pimenton) or ground cumin, place on a sheet pan and broil for a minute or two until they start to brown and turn crisp. Remove from the oven, flip the strips over, spray with the cooking spray again and season with more kosher salt and paprika or cumin. Broil the second side until brown and crispy. Remove from the oven, break the strips in half if desired and serve immediately as a garnish for soup.


Mexican Chicken Soup
From the Food Network and “Barefoot Contessa at Home” by Ina Garten

Serves: 6 to 8
Level: Easy

4 bone-in, skin on, chicken breasts
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 quarts low sodium, non-fat chicken stock
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed
2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded if desired and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, (optional according to Ina, essential according to me)
6 (6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas, plus more if you are making your own strips for garnish
Garnish: chopped avocado, sour cream (low fat works great), grated sharp Cheddar cheese, chopped fresh cilantro, a slice of lime, and crumbled tortilla chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan covered in heavy duty foil for easy clean-up. Rub the chicken with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done. Check with a instant read thermometer and when it reaches 160 degrees F, it’s done. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones and shred the meat. Cover and set aside.

Cooks note: Chicken can be cooked a couple of days in advance. Store covered in the refrigerator, but don’t shred it now. Instead, on the day you plan to serve the soup, bring the chicken to room temperature and shred it then, not as instructed above.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, and salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cut the tortillas in 1/2, then cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded chicken, chopped cilantro and check for seasonings, adding more salt and pepper to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with any or all of the garnishes and crumbled tortilla chips. Or better yet, make your own tortilla strips, recipe above. Leftovers keep nicely covered in the refrigerator for several days.


I am linking this to Stone Gable's On the Menu Monday, so be sure to drop by for a visit.


59 comments:

  1. I love Ina's recipes...they are always perfect! This soup sounds great!

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  2. I also like Ina's recipes. Specially the ones from her book about Paris. The one's I had tried are always a hit at home.

    Clever husband, :)


    Good looking soup.

    Mely

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  3. Ina's recipes are always fantastic. I love that you can count on her like that. This is a beautiful soup, one I'd like to try. I think it's great that you and Meakin spend time cooking together. Great teamwork!

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  4. I also adore anything Ina and Mexican Chicken Soup is a favorite but I've not tried her version. I'll have to try this, especially for the roasting method and Meakin's tortilla tips. Please tell Meakin his photos are amazingly bright, clear and crisp. Thanks both of you for this post.

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  5. That looks delicious and very user friendly. That's a great idea about the tortilla strips. Definitely will have to try that too. Have a great day. Donnie

    Posted under DJ's name because of blogger problems.

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  6. I never try one of her recipes yet, but watching these soup and tortilla you definitely make me think about doing something about it in one of these days

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  7. Looks so yummy-thanks for sharing!!

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  8. Your love of food is reflected in all your colorful posts.

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  9. A gorgeous soup! Those flavors are so appealing. Beautiful.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  10. Ina never fails me. I agree wholeheartedly!Yoiru soupd and homemade tortilla strips are perfection Sam.

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  11. You always present food with such panache and style Sam!
    This soup looks so rich and full of flavour - I can't wait to try it! I think the photographer done very well with the tortilla chips!

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  12. Looks delicious Sam and I knew that guy had hidden talents.

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  13. I agree, Ina's recipes are spot on! 2 things I love about this: sprinkling smoked paprika on the tortilla chips. I'll have to do that next time I make them. And, bone in/skin on roasting. Always works like a charm. Actually I have a post in my que about roasting chicken breasts, if I ever get around to finishing it. :-)

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  14. I like some of her (Ina)simple, stand-by tips that you end up using so often. I have made tortilla strips like that too. It's fun to make them any shape or size you like! Your photographer was a big help (nice job Meakin) great photos.

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  15. That looks delicious. My mouth is watering. Thanks for the recipe(s)!
    Hugs,
    Penny

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  16. I love Ina Garten and have all her books. I think it was last week that the program where she prepared this soup aired. I watched and had not prepared it myself but was inspired to sometime this week. I am taking out my chicken today to roast. Glad to know that you enjoyed this soup.

    Carolyn/A Southerners Notebook

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  17. I love this Sam, look delicious, yummy, muy sabroso my dear, nice pictures, gloria

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  18. Yum! Is there still some in the refrigerator? I'll be right over.♥

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  19. I really like to sound of this soup. A real meal on its own. Diane

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  20. I love her recipes. This looks delicious - the soup and the tortilla strips. What a good idea for preparing the strips, too.

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  21. I saw this on FB this morning and wanted it for breakfast Sam! What a perfect bowl...

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  22. Love Ina's recipes and this one sounds and looks so good.Great idea to prepare your own tortilla strips. Isn't it fun to have our own sous chef with us in the kitchen?
    Rita

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  23. You can tell a lot of work must go in to testing Ina's recipes because they always do turn out perfectly.

    What a delicious looking soup and I love Meakin's tortilla strips!

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  24. I am going to have to make this soup. It is one of Ina's that I have never made and you make it look and sound sooo good. Meakin did a great job with the tortilla strips too. Are you guys still in Florida?

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  25. I love the sound of this soup. Ina's recipes are winners.
    Your blog is also a joy to visit, Sam.

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  26. Oh my! This soup looks and sounds glorious! Bookmarked to make soon!

    New to your blog; happy I found you!

    Mary

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  27. oooh yum... right up my alley.

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  28. Oh Dear, Now I want THIS for dinner instead. It looks fabulous ~ nice job! xo

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  29. That looks amazing! And the tortilla chips are inspired!

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  30. It must be "Ina" night! Karen at This Old House 2 made an Ina recipe and I made an "all Ina" dinner for my hubby this evening!

    I have to tell you, your soup looks very delicious and I think my husband will enjoy it. Love what you & Meakin did with the tortilla chips/strips! I'm always look for ways to cut fat and calories from our meals and still make them taste great.

    Have a great week!

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  31. Gotta love Ina! This is one of my favorite soups. Your photos are becoming better and better! These are beautiful, Sam!

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  32. Such a beautiful bowl of soup! I love Ina's recipes...they are spot on! Your husband is a KEEPER! Those chips sound delicious!

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  33. Your photos make my mouth water, Sam, even before I've had my morning coffee. We can always count on Ina's recipes to be first rate and Meakin's way of making tortilla crisps is the perfect garnish. I think this will be our weekend soup.

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  34. This looks amazing, Sam! I, too, enjoy Ina's recipes. They are really consistent and tasty. I am going to make the soup!!

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  35. I never tried Ina's recipes. This looks like a wonderful soup with a crunch to it. Love it.

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  36. I'm a big fan of Ina's recipes. This looks fantastic. Love that you made the tortilla strips without frying.

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  37. This is the tortilla soup I always come back to after I try other recipes. It just has all the flavor I am looking for and is always a winner at my house. Your photos have me craving it once again!

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  38. I love Ina, love tortilla soup and love those tortilla strips. Having a lovefest with the recipe. Will do.

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  39. What a gorgeous and tempting looking soup, and the homemade tortilla strips made great complements :D

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  40. Wonderfully delicious soup here, love the homemade tortilla strips on top, nice!

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  41. Nice husband-wifey teamwork in the kitchen! Those tortilla strips look perfect for that all to yummy soup :) Thanks for sharing!

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  42. Ina is one of my favorite go to for recipes. You are right, I have never been disappointed. I have this soup on my list. Thanks.

    Velva

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  43. Meakin is brilliant! Love his low calorie idea, and it's more convenient than going out and buying these tortilla strips. This looks like a soul satisfying meal, love all of the spices!

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  44. That last photograph almost made me want to lick the screen. YUM!! I am going to have to try this.

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  45. Sam, you are a divine cook and Meakin is a genius! This will be our Tuesday meal this week and I will deliver an ample amount to my daughter for her family. She is always preparing dishes and new recipes for us so she will love this!

    Have a wonderful week my friend!
    Genie

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  46. Mmmm, Meakin's spicy tortilla chips would make a great snack! I just read on Dianne Jacob's blog that Ina's recipes all come out great because she tests them and then has other's test them which is brilliant! Now I think I need one of her cookbooks. Love the flavors in this "meal in a bowl".

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  47. Love this soup and its ease of preparation! Very nice colors too~

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  48. You are so right, Sam. I've never had a recipe of Ina's fail. And, I love her laugh.
    Your soup looks fabulous. Meakin's addition of tortilla chips is inspired. Good for him!

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  49. I wish I had a bowl of this deliciousness right now. Just getting over another cold (went all winter without one!) and it would hit the spot.

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  50. Dear Sam, This soup looks soooo delicious. I love dishes like this. Blessings, Catherine

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  51. Love Meakin's idea-I'm going to try it too : )

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  52. You and Meakin are quite the pair! The soup looks delicious and I'll definitely be trying his method of fried tortilla chips.

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  53. This makes me want a vacation! Great pics. I saw your comment on Ron's page, and I'm glad I came across your blog.

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  54. Mexican Chicken Soup sounds so tasty and I love your oven baked totilla tip!

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  55. this looks fantastic!! thanks for the recipe! :)

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  56. this looks so good!! thanks for the recipe:)

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I enjoy reading each and every comment. I appreciate your taking the time to visit my blog and I hope you'll return again soon.
Sam