Monday, June 6, 2011

Blackberry Winter and Soup

It has been really damp and cool the last two days.  My grandparents referred to this as Blackberry winter.  This cool weather is necessary to set the buds on blackberry plants so there will be juicy ripe berries to pick around the fourth of July.  There are a lot of "winters" in our part of the country.  Dogwood winter, redbud winter, strawberry winter and now blackberry winter.  Every time you think warm weather is here, it is time for something else to bloom and we get a little cold spell.  Hopefully, this is the end of them for this year.  I am ready for some consistently warm weather!

Cool days always make me want soup.  Soup is easy, nutritious, and goes a long way for little money.  Today, I am making chicken tortilla soup.  Yum.  This is my own recipe, one that I invented after having chicken tortilla soup in a restaurant.  It was really good and my thought was "I can come close to this!"  I don't always use  recipes, but I am going to share how I make this soup with you so I have been measuring ingredients as I prepare them.  This makes a lot of soup, but we eat it for days.  It is so nice to have something just to warm up when we get hungry and not have to prepare a full meal every time.  Saves money too!  When you make soup, make a lot.  You can freeze some of it for later, you can take some in your lunch and you have a quick and easy dinner when you get home.   You can always add a sandwich if you like, or a  salad.  We like jalapeno cheddar corn muffins with ours.  (see recipe below)
I make this in a 12 quart pot.  It makes about 6 quarts of soup or 1/2 pot.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 32 ounce boxes of chicken stock (I use Aldi's Fit and Active....low sodium, no msg and fat free)
8 cups water
3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, I get 3 skinless breasts at Aldi's for around $5.00 (or you can boil  a whole chicken if you want to pick it off the bone or use one of the roasted ones from the grocery, just remove the skin)
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces (2 cups)
1 cup carrots peeled and cut into 1/2 inch medallions
l large onion cut into 1 inch pieces
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 can rotelle with chilis
1 15 ounce can black beans drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
1 cup rice
cumin, to taste (I used 1.5 Tbsp)
salt if needed

Grated cheddar cheese
Your favorite tortilla chips

Boil chicken breasts whole in stock and water until done, about 30-40 minutes.  They are done when white all the way through.  Remove breasts.  If the water/stock has gone down a lot due to cooking, I add more water at this point.  I like the pot 1/2 full of liquid.  Add the diced vegetables, crushed tomatoes, rotelle with chilis and let cook until potatoes and carrots are soft. Add black beans, corn and rice, let cook until rice is no longer hard.  At this point, I add cumin and salt to taste. Cumin gives it that lovely smokey taste that makes the soup so good.   Cut chicken into bite sized pieces and add to soup and let heat through.  Time to serve!

 Put chips and cheese on the table in serving bowls.  Add the amount of grated cheese you want to your bowl of soup (it melts fast when soup is hot) and crumble tortilla chips on top of soup.  Enjoy!

Jalapeno cheddar cornbread -- very easy!

Mince 6 or seven pickled jalapeno slices (these are about the size of a nickel, not whole jalpenos)
Grate your favorite cheese (we like cheddar)
1 box jiffy  cornbread mix
1 can creamed corn
1 egg

Add 1 can creamed corn and egg to Jiffy Cornbread mix.  Stir until mix is no longer dry and egg is blended in.  Add jalapenos and about 1/2 cup cheese.  You can bake these as muffins or in a round pan.  We prefer muffins as they are easy to reheat if there are leftovers.  They need to bake a little longer than the box calls for because of the creamed corn.  Bake until golden brown.  Remove.  Delicious with some butter on them.

Our kitchen is filling with the wonderful smell of soup and it's making my mouth water.  I can honestly say I am looking forward to this delicious meal and we will have a few lunches and dinners ready for the rest of the week.   I only used one pot, and a few utensils and bowls.  Now how easy is that?

It is supposed to warm up by the end of the week which will be very welcome, but for tonight, we will be enjoying a delicious, filling meal and I will have a few day's reprieve from meal preparation.  That leaves a LOT more time for all my creative projects.  Give this recipe a try.  I hope you enjoy it.

Everyday Donna

Things to remember:

“You have not lived a perfect day, even though you have earned your money, unless you have done something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” - Ruth Smeltzer

1 comment:

  1. It is curious how those 'winters' carry forward. My mother has lived in Palm Springs for 46 years. There is always a 100 degree plus weather spell in late April. But my mother says, "Just wait, we haven't had blackberry winter yet". We are having blackberry winter here at the beach today, it is raining!