I love cooking tomato-based soups because I find they are always flavourful while keeping the calories down and the nutrients high. I find making soups is a simple way to add extra vegetables to a meal, and allow me use up whatever is kicking around in your refrigerator or pantry. This soup is also a budget friendly meal, as it uses chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts. Try substituting black or pinto beans or tofu instead of chicken for an even more budget-friendly version or to make the recipe vegan.
For this recipe I used a can of fire-roasted tomatoes, which added a smoky depth to the broth that complimented the Mexican flavours perfectly. Making Mexican-style foods is a great excuse to make guacamole because... well, it's guacamole.
I know that the weather in Vancouver has been hinting at spring lately, but until things are consistently above 15°C, I'll still be in the mood for a warm bowl of soup.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 package skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 600 g, or 6-8 chicken thighs), or 2 cups black or pinto beans or cubed tofu
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 tbsp ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1 jalapeño (seeded if you prefer less spice), minced
1 tsp Mexican oregano (regular oregano works too)
1 14 oz can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes (or use regular if that's all you have on hand)
4 cups no-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 small can of corn, no sodium added, or 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 tsp salt
24 cracks of fresh ground black pepper
2 green bell peppers, diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Tortilla chips, guacamole, sour cream, limes, or cheese for garnish
Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pot on medium to medium high heat until shimmery. Cook chicken thighs until browned, about 4 minutes per side (or brown cubed tofu, if using), regulating the temperature so the oil doesn't burn. Remove chicken thighs to a plate.
Add diced onion and carrot and cook until softened and just beginning to brown. Add garlic, cumin, and jalapeño and cook 30 seconds more. Add chicken thighs back to the pot. If you're using beans, add them here. Stir in tomatoes, stock, corn, salt, and pepper. Cover with a tightly fitting lid and simmer for 30 minutes.
Once cooking time has elapsed, remove chicken thighs to a platter or cutting board. Stir in diced bell pepper and allow to cook at a low simmer until softened, about 10 minutes with the lid on. Shred chicken with two forks, and stir it into the pot. Taste and season soup to taste. Add cilantro when finished cooking, and divide into bowls.
Serve alongside tortilla chips and guacamole, garnished with sour cream, cheddar cheese, cilantro, lime wedges, or any combination of those things.
Note: This recipe is also perfect for the Instant Pot (isn't everything?). Follow the directions above, but brown the meat on the Sauté function on medium heat, then cook under pressure for 10 minutes and allow for 10 minute natural release. Then switch your Pot over to the Sauté function again to boil the soup and cook the bell pepper (I find they go too soft if you add them at the beginning).