Here in DC, we are in the throws of full-blown fall. The trees have finally changed, the air is crispy, and I pulled out the sweaters this week. It seemed like fall was slow to start here. One of the things that I love the most about being an Eastcoaster again is fall. Fall here is like none other. Having lived out West and in the Midwest, I feel like I can have an opinion without passing judgement. Fall is my favorite season no matter where we live, but fall on the East coast is truly a special and beautiful time.
When I think of fall, I think of soup. All I really want to eat is soup. In fact, I eat a bowl of soup almost every day for lunch. I love the warming and comforting qualities a bowl of soup has on me. Since my kids went back to school all day, I have a lot of time to myself. It can be isolating and I often find myself (even as I type this) working from the coffee shop down the street. They have the best soup ever. Everything is homemade and every day there is a new bowl to try. I love it. It has inspired me to venture out of my same-four-soup recipes and try some new ones.
This weekend I saw Trisha Yearwood make a Creamy Tortilla Soup to serve after trick-or-treating. My mom always made a big pot of chili for my brother and sister and our friends after we finished gathering our loot. Now I understand why she made chili. It can made ahead of time and kept on the stove over gentle heat until everyone was ready to serve themselves a bowl. She kept all of the toppings next to the pot with bowls and spoons and we could help ourselves. I remember feeling very grown up topping my chili. My friends all loved it too. Trisha was saying this soup is her post-Trick-or-Treating meal and it has a lot of the same qualities. Make ahead, can stay on the stove, lots of toppings, super fun.
I changed up her recipe a little to make it suit my taste more, and I have to say, I love how it turned out. I added peppers, red and yellow for color (and I had some I needed to use in my fridge), and some very finely chopped habanero pepper. Got rid rid of the canned soup. Added way more cheese at the end. Before I began my Sargento Flavor Journey, I really never cooked or ate habaneros. Now I use them any time a recipe calls for jalapeno. Yes, they have a lot of heat, but a little goes a long way. My children ate this soup too, so it was fairly mild, but it does have heat, just not too spicy. This soup will be in heavy rotation at my house. The ingredient list might look daunting, but it is mostly spices and a few cans. You could also use leftover chicken or a rotisserie and soup will be on the table in no time.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
1 Tablespoon taco seasoning
3 Tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 habanero pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper
3 Tablespoons flour
1 (32-ounce) box chicken stock
2 cups half-and-half
1 can Rotel
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 can black beans, drained
2 ears fresh corn or 1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
Sargento® Traditional Cut Shredded Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Sargento® Traditional Cut Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Toss chicken with taco seasoning and add to the pan in batches. When the chicken is browned, remove and transfer to a plate. Cook the rest of the chicken and set aside.
I used a red and yellow habanero. Depending on the store where I buy them, I have found them in various colors. They all taste the same to me. Just be sure to handle them carefully, I always wear gloves when I work with them, and chop them finely. You don’t want a big bite of pepper, especially when you are serving this to children.
Add butter to the empty pot and melt. Add onion, all peppers, and garlic. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the spices and cook for an additional minute.
Add the flour and cook for one minute longer.
Add the broth and half-and-half. Bring to a bubble.
Reduce heat to low, and add the chicken back to the pot. Add Rotel, beans and corn.
Simmer for 20 minutes, being careful to not bring to a boil.
Right before serving, stir in chopped cilantro.
Crumble tortilla chips in the bottom of a bowl.
Ladle soup on top and add a generous amount of cheese. Garnish with sour cream and avocado.
**This post is a part of my ongoing collaboration with Sargento Cheese. All opinions are 100% my own.**