Almost Instant Chicken Salsa Soup
Ingredients in the fridge are like a cook’s paint box. There are so many ways to use them, they can be as delicious as starting with a purchased array. That’s how this recipe came about. I always have homemade broth in the freezer now. In the past, I would make a huge batch of soup, and we’d eat it every day until we got tired of it. Maybe I’d freeze the remainder or maybe it would get sour, and I’d have to toss it. It wasn’t working very well, and soup for supper (or lunch) was an only-once-in-a-while thing. We were getting huge amounts good nourishing bone broth occasionally, but I really wanted it to be a part of my cooking all the time.
So instead of making a vat of soup, I decided to make broth instead and freeze it in ice cube trays. Now I have homemade bone broth for quick soups like this week’s recipe, liquid for cooking rice, a flavorful addition to pan sauces and a way to enhance greens and other vegetables. We get the benefits of the broth nearly every day. Right now I have chicken, beef, dashi, and ham broths ready at the waiting in the freezer.
When we want soup, I can make just enough and not too much, using leftover meats, poultry or seafood and the assorted vegetables that are just waiting in the fridge. It’s a great way to use up half a jalapeño, some leftover roast chicken, some salsa or whatever good stuff you happen to have.
For a time I was a personal chef to some dear friends. I made this soup for them (though not from leftovers) and when one of them brought the soup to work and heated it up for lunch one day, I suddenly had four new clients to cook for. It perfumed the office with an enticing aroma that lured her coworkers to the break room to find out what it was. Try that with Progresso sometime. There’s a funky, weird smell that lingers long after the not-so-tasty soup is gone.
This recipe is for a Mexican-inspired soup, but you can vary it up in many different ways. Cook some carrots, celery and onion in the chicken broth. Add the chicken and some leftover rice. Voilà! Almost instant chicken rice soup. And whether you want to chase away a cold or keep from getting one, you’ll have a bowl of goodness that beats Campbell’s to shame.
There’s a nice, long playlist this week. I kept adding tunes and decided to keep ’em. Fire up the Spotify, make a quick soup and enjoy!
- 2 tbsp chicken fat or organic olive oil
- 1 small onion minced
- 2 tbsp cilantro stems (use the leaves to garnish the finished soup)
- 1 cup salsa homemade or use a juicy, tomato-based salsa
- 1 small jalapeño minced
- 4 cups homemade chicken broth
- 8 oz. cooked chicken
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 small avocado sliced (optional)
- 1 lime juiced
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
- 2 oz shredded cheese (optional)
- 2 tbsp sour cream (optional)
Heat chicken fat or olive oil over medium heat in sauce pan large enough to hold ingredients. Add the onion and sauté 5 minutes. Add jalapeño and cilantro stems, sauté 1 minute.
Increase the heat to medium high. Add the salsa and cook, stirring frequently until it loses its bright red color, about 6-7 minutes. Add broth and chicken, heat until hot, about 5 minutes.
Garnish with your choice of avocado, lime juice, cilantro leaves, cheese or sour cream.
- 1 lb. chicken bones you can use less or much more; or use a whole chicken
- 1-2 leeks or 1 onion white part only, rinsed well, cut into chunks
- 1-2 carrots trimmed, left unpeeled, cut into chunks
- 1-2 celery stalks washed, trimmed, cut into chunks
- 1-2 bay leaves dried leaves; fresh bay can taste like eucalyptus
- 6-8 peppercorns
Add all ingredients to a pot about three times larger than the ingredients' volume. Add cold, filtered water to a height about 2 inches above the ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and skim foam from the top. If you are using a whole chicken, simmer for 20 minutes only. Remove the chicken parts and allow to cool. Turn off the broth while the meat is cooling.
If using just bones, reduce the heat to a very low simmer once the foam has all been removed. The surface should just barely bubble. Simmer for at least two hours, but a large volume can simmer for up to 10 hours if you like.
If using a whole chicken, remove the meat and skin and set aside to cool. Refrigerate and reserve the meat for another recipe. Return the bones to the pot and continue with the second step.
Strain the broth, removing the vegetables and bones to a strainer, squeezing out as much liquid as possible. Use at once or freeze in ice cube trays and store in zip top bags. Label the bags with contents and date.
When the broth is chilled, there is likely to be a layer of fat on top of the broth. Skim it off, reserving it in a small container. Refrigerate if using right away or freeze. The chicken fat is a super delicious way to start a sauté of vegetables for chicken soup or other recipe.