By LEAH VAHJEN
Start to finish: 45 Minutes (15 minutes prep)
Although last week’s weather might suggest otherwise, autumn is fast approaching. The up-and-coming season not only means crunchy leaves and everything pumpkin, but also cozy sweatpants and the comfort of an ample meal. This Hearty Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe is just that, plus its fast, inexpensive and downright delectable.
2 tbsp. vegetable oil or butter
15.25 oz. can of corn (white or yellow)
1 medium red bell pepper
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1lb.)
1 medium green zucchini
1 medium white onion
3 cloves of minced garlic
8 oz. can of tomato sauce
3 cups of chicken stock (not broth)
One 28 oz. can of stewed tomatoes
Salt and pepper, to taste
Ground cumin, to taste
Poultry seasoning or dried thyme, to taste
One chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (can substitute hot sauce)
Prepare the chicken, bell pepper, zucchini and onion by dicing the chicken into generous chunks. Also, dice bell pepper and onion. Peel and quarter the zucchini. (You may choose to leave the skin on if you prefer.)
Now that your prep work is done, turn your burner to medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil (or butter) to your pot. When the butter begins to melt or the oil begins to bubble, add the drained can of corn and the fresh-diced peppers. Cook for 10 minutes and let cool. (Note: cooking your peppers and onions will produce some heavenly smells, charred skins and sometimes rogue, flying kernels. This is all okay as long as you stay out of the line of fire.)
After removing the cooked corn and peppers, return the pot to the burner, which should be kept to medium-high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil or butter and immediately add your diced chicken. Shake some salt and pepper, ground cumin and poultry seasoning or thyme on top of the chicken for seasoning. Do not forget to do the reverse side when you flip. Cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side or until white and firm to the touch of your cooking utensil.
Next, add your diced zucchini, onion and minced garlic and continue to cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep anything from sticking or burning.
Then, add the tomato sauce, chicken stock and can of stewed tomatoes, not drained. Upon boil, change the temperature to medium-low. Add the previously cooked corn and peppers. You may also add one or two chipotle peppers or some hot sauce for an extra kick!
When your soup is hot, turn off the stove and serve heaping portions into your favorite big bowls. Additionally, you can sprinkle the surface of your personal soup bowl with cheese, followed by a dollop of sour cream and a heaping pile of tortilla chips.