Cinco de Mayo, Spanish for the “Fifth of May” is this Wednesday! Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in the Mexican state of Puebla because it marks the day when the Mexican army triumped over the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It actually has limited significance in Mexico but is commonly celebrated in the United States and the throughout the world to honor Mexican culture. So what will you be cooking or drinking to celebrate?
One of my favorite Mexican dishes is simple: chicken tortilla soup. This soup tastes as good as it looks! Plus it’s a very flavorful and healthful dish that is really easy to make. You start off by pureeing tomatoes, peppers, garlic and sauteed onions in a blender. (I don’t have a food processer. My blender works just fine for this dish!) Then just cook the chicken in the broth. And when you are ready to serve, garnish with your favorite ingredients.
I used a chipotle chile pepper canned in adobo sauce to spice up my soup. A chipotle chile pepper is actually a dried, smoked jalapeño. It has wrinkled dark brown skin and a smokey sweet and almost chocolate-like flavor. Chipotle chili peppers are commonly found dried, pickled and canned in Adobo sauce. Adobo sauce is a dark red sauce or paste made from ground chiles, herbs and vinegar. Most grocery stores carry canned chipotles. I found mine in the specialty Mexican section of Wegmans. (I also used this sauce in my Renaissance White Chicken Chili.) If you cannot find chipotle peppers canned in adobe sauce, feel free to substitute a chopped and seeded jalepeno. Jalepeno peppers, named after Jalapa, the capital of Veracruz, Mexico, is a smooth dark green pepper that ranges from hot to very hot. These peppers are scarlet red when ripe (hence, the red chili icon from Chili’s!)
WARNING: For those of you who have never worked with hot peppers before, take heed: BE SURE TO THOROUGHLY WASH YOUR HANDS after touching any of these peppers, ESPECIALLY THE SEEDS OF THE JALEPENO!!! NEVER TOUCH YOUR EYES OR FACE WHEN WORKING WITH HOT PEPPERS! 🙂
I also used some cotija cheese to add another layer of flavor to this dish. Cotija is a Mexican cheese named after Cotija de la Paz, a town in the state of Michoacan. (It is pronounced koh TEE ha.) It is a salty cheese similar to the Greek feta cheese. It can be made from cow’s or goat’s milk and can be semisoft to very hard. This cheese is optional – I didn’t use it when I was really trying to count my calories. But a little crumble of this cheese goes a long way! 🙂
Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 cooking onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 14 oz can of tomatoes
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (or 1 seeded jalapeño)
6 cups of low sodium chicken broth
Frank’s Hot Sauce
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Emeril’s Southwestern Essence
1 bag of Guiltless Blue Corn Tortilla Chips
1 handful of fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: Cotija Cheese
Sauté the onion and garlic in a large soup pot. When the onions are translucent, add them to a blender with the can of whole tomatoes and chipotle pepper. Add 1 teaspoon of Adobo sauce. Puree.
Return the mixture to the pot and add the chicken broth. Bring to a simmer. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Rub a little of the Emeril’s Southwestern Essence onto the chicken. Add the chicken to the soup and let cook for about 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot when it is cooked and shred. Add the chicken back into the pot. Season the soup with salt and pepper and a dash of Frank’s hot sauce. (Be careful with this step unless you want the soup to be really hot!)
Scoop broth and chicken into a bowl. Serve with blue corn tortilla chips, diced avocado, and fresh cilantro.