Every January we press the ‘reset’ button and look to healthy fresh starts, and getting organized. Such was the case this week as I was searching for inspiration to write a recipe, and so I figured I’d lean in clean out my fridge, freezer, pantry, and play my own at-home game of ‘Chopped’. Looking to my previous real-life experiences on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen helped prepare me for the challenge (insert Rocky theme here for background ambiance) as I set a timer to really get things going.
With 30 minutes on the clock*, I took stock of potential ingredients and saw that I had in the fridge: green bell pepper, portobello mushroom caps, a jar of pickled jalapeños, some brown bananas, and a few leftover limes. From the freezer came: chicken breasts, chicken stock, and a bag of diced onions that I usually keep on hand for when I’m feeling a little lazy (tip: when you’re chopping 1 onion, you might as well just chop 3, and freeze the extra for later days). Looking to the pantry, I found garlic and some aging tortillas. The wheels turned, and immediately i said ‘no’ to the banana, for this recipe, and made a mental note to make banana bread later. The rest would be turned into Chicken Fajita Soup. (*30 minute timer was to assess the situation, prep ingredients, and get the whole thing going. The soup takes a little longer to simmer and finish.)
To get the big time flavor of a skillet of sizzling fajita accoutrements, the first step to this soup is to saute and season each of the base ingredients providing bold flavor for a rich result in each and every bite. Since you can’t really have fajitas without tortillas, I decided to turn these into seasoned baked chips or strips to top the soup. Finishing each dish with a sprinkling of pickled jalapeños sealed the deal, though I really wished I’d had some sour cream and scallions on hand to top it off for a refreshing kick. I’ll leave that choice up to you- black beans, and shredded cheese also make for great additions to this soup.
Chicken Fajita Soup with Baked Tortilla Crisps
- 4 c. chicken stock
- 1.5-2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced to 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 large portobello mushroom caps, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
- 1 sweet yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- vegetable or canola oil, as needed
- 3 limes, for juice & garnish
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1/4 tsp. cumin
- smoked paprika, as needed
- kosher salt & finely ground black pepper as needed
- jarred sliced pickled jalapeños, for garnish
- baked tortilla crisps (recipe below), for garnish
- Place the diced chicken pieces into a zip top bag, and add: juice of 1 lime, 2 Tbs. oil, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika, and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Press out the air, and seal the bag shut. Gently squeeze the bag, working the ingredients around until combined. Allow to rest & marinate for 20 minutes.
- In a large dutch oven, or heavy bottomed soup pot heat 2 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms to the pot and give a good stir to coat, and then spread in an even later across the bottom of the pot. Leave the mushrooms along and allow them to cook for 5 minutes. Give a good stir again, add 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until mushrooms are browned.
- To the browned mushrooms, add the diced onion, garlic, bell pepper, 1 tsp. onion powder, 1/4 tsp. cumin, 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, and pinch of black pepper. Give a good stir to incorporate all ingredients, and allow to cook for 5-7 minutes over medium-high heat until fragrant and the edges of onion and pepper are lightly browned.
- Add the marinated diced chicken to the pot, and stir to coat in the mushrooms, peppers and onions. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes, until the chicken has just started to turn white on the outside. Season with additional pinch of salt & pepper.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, and add the chicken stock to the pot, covering all ingredients. Add the juice from 1 lime, and stir to ensure all ingredients are mixed and nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pan. If stock does not cover all of the ingredients, add 1 cup of water to cover along with a pinch of salt to season. Simmer the soup over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.
- Serve a generous portion of soup along with a heaping pile of baked tortilla crisps, sprinkling of sliced pickled jalapeños, and wedge of lime.
For tortilla crisps:
- 4, 8″ flour tortillas
- 2 Tbs. veggie or canola oil
- 1/4 tsp. chili powder
- pinch of kosher salt & ground black pepper
- wedge of lime
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the tortillas into strips about 1/4 inch wide by 2 inches long.
- In a mixing bowl, Toss the tortilla strips along with oil, chili powder, salt and pepper until all the strips are coated. Transfer the seasoned strips to a baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until browned and crisp. Squeeze a wedge of lime juice over top of the crisps before serving.