Our pantry is important. It doubles as both a food pantry and storage area for what normally lives in “modern” kitchen cabinets. But we don’t have kitchen cabinets - modern or otherwise. We do have a closet in the dining room where all our dishes and glassware live. And we’ve got the pantry. It’s an old house, with an even older kitchen, which is part of the original building. Another reason our pantry has to work extra hard is the fact we live about 25 minutes from the nearest big supermarket. There is a small grocery store and a convenience store nearby where we can purchase any basics we run out of. But when we grocery shop, we tend to stock up.
So it’s not unusual to find me standing in our pantry, just before dinnertime, staring intently at the contents of the shelves. As a result of this intense staring (and being snowed in from time to time) I have created a number of “pantry only” meals. One of them is Mexican Soup, which is also known as Chicken Tortilla Soup. I first started making it many years ago after the craving for Tortilla Soup from the original Miguel’s Restaurant in Bar Harbor, Maine became irresistible. I’ve made it many different ways, but the following is the “pantry only” version - well, except for the cheese!
Lee’s Wicked Easy Mexican Soup
Old El Paso Chopped green chiles, 7 oz
Muir Glen Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes, 28 oz
Chicken Broth, 14 0z
Beef Broth (OR Veggie broth), 14 oz
Goya Black Beans - rinsed, 15 oz
Kuner’s Refried Black Beans with Lime Juice, 15 oz
Mexican Style Chili Powder
Tabasco Chipotle Sauce
Cocoa Powder (adds a nice depth of flavor)
Pinch of Sugar
Trader Joe’s Premium Chunk Chicken, 12 oz (lightly shredded with a fork)
Shredded Mexican cheese (Sargento’s is good)
Start the onions, garlic and olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Once the onions have softened, add the remaining canned ingredients, except the chicken. Allow the ingredients to simmer, stirring periodically to keep the beans from settling on the bottom of the pot. Taste the soup and begin adding the seasonings according to taste. Once you have the soup seasoned properly, go ahead and add the chicken and continue to let the soup simmer.
In soup bowls, lightly crush a few tortilla chips. Sprinkle some shredded cheese onto the chips. Ladle the soup over the chips and cheese and serve immediately.
This makes a substantial pot of soup. But it freezes beautifully.