As soon as you can see your breath outside, the first frost, or around the time when Browns fans start getting that feeling of dread, it's soup season.
Soup season is indicative of the passing of seasons. It's when you stop cooling off and start warming up. Coffee, sweaters, boots and whatnot. It's the comfort season, where one seeks out comfort foods. Soups are perfect for that.
Just the act of eating soup is comforting; cuddling up with the bowl, feeling the warmth from the hot soup. Like that Campbell's commercial with the little snowman / boy who eats the soup and melts. Soup commercials always hit the nail on the head.
White chicken chili, shown above and below, is a soup that is versatile, flavorful, adaptable and a welcome break from the usual soup suspects.
Everyone has a soup that they like to make in a big batch, and either disperse out among others or freeze for those days when a bowl of hot soup is just what they need. I like to make my white chicken chili, a soup that is versatile, flavorful, adaptable and a welcome break from the usual soup suspects.
Not that there's anything wrong with regular chili. Chili is a wonderful thing. Chili brings people together. Chili is a source of pride for many an amateur cook or fireman. Basic beef-and-tomato chili is awesome. But, if you will, chili on the other end of the meat-and-color spectrum can be just as satisfying.
The soup starts with a roux, a soup base made from whisking flour and melted butter in the pot. The roux makes for a creamy, rich soup base when combined with chicken broth and cream. Then, all manner of spices - chili powder, cumin, red pepper, white pepper, garlic salt - can all be adjusted for heat and taste. Then, the vegetables. This soup is great for diversity, since you can add practically any vegetables you like. I used white beans, navy beans, green beans, carrots and corn.
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
6 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
1 pint heavy cream
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 can white northern beans
1 can navy beans
1 can french-cut green beans
1 can green chilies
1 cup chopped, cooked carrots
2 tbsp cumin
4 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese
Melt butter in the bottom of a large pot. Whisk in flour to create a roux, and whisk until smooth, about three minutes. Then slowly whisk in chicken broth, then cream. Let simmer to a boil. Then add vegetables and spices. Spices can be adjusted to taste.
Grill chicken breasts lightly seasoned with salt, pepper and chili powder on a countertop grill, or in a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil, until cooked through. Slice lengthwise in strips or into cubes, and add to pot.
Let soup simmer another 20 minutes, then add cheese. Stir until melted through, another five minutes.
Serve hot with croutons and a dollop of sour cream.
As for the chicken, I prefer to grill it, seasoned with salt, pepper and chili powder. Or, to make the soup veggie friendly, you can skip the chicken and double up on the veggies. I set aside a de-chickenfied portion of the soup for a vegetarian friend.
The soup proves to be a worthy marriage of chicken soup and chili, two of the mainstays in the soup world. It makes for a smooth transition into the chilly fall season.