Our Anniversary Getaway and a Pot of Chicken Soup

lemon curry chicken soup

There’s no better time to make a big pot of soup than a rainy Sunday morning here on the avocado ranch! Just chop up some onions, celery, and carrots…and take a look in the pantry to see what might be good with the chicken!

rain-in-avocado-trees

We’re so happy to have a day of rain … every drop helps us with the challenging drought here in California.  The other reason we love rain is that we can take some time away from the farm,  since the trees won’t need to be irrigated while the rain is falling!

This weekend we are celebrating our 33rd wedding anniversary.  It’s hard to believe it has been such a long time since our wedding day!  Where did the time go?   Our children were born in the first 6 years,  and then we were busy doing the things that all busy families do.  Even when our children were young, we would try to get away by ourselves for a few hours or overnight to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  This year we decided at the last minute to drive up to  Huntington Beach,  only about an hour away.

Hilton Huntington Beach

About an hour before we were ready to leave on Thursday, I called the Hilton Waterfront Resort Continue reading

Making Your Own Chicken Tortellini Soup…with Avocados

chicken tortellini soup

I have heard some surprising news  from several readers since writing the post about Southwest Chicken Soup.  People are confessing that they have NEVER made homemade chicken soup!    In an effort to promote soup-making as a therapeutic activity guaranteed to encourage an inner smile,  I am going to share more chicken soup secrets with you today.    On an otherwise blah day, life can be dramatically improved  if you make a pot of homemade chicken soup.

First of all,  it’s hard to start a pot of soup without  fresh onion, celery and carrots, so make sure you have those on hand.  Chop up the onions and the celery, add them to the pan with just a little bit of olive oil.  As they start to cook,  stir the pot so you can smell the deliciousness.

veggies for soup

When the vegetables have cooked for 5 minutes or so,   add the chicken.  You can use thighs or breasts.  I buy chicken on sale and freeze it. Skinless, boneless chicken is easiest, but if you find a good sale and want to pick out all the skin and bones when the chicken has cooked, go for it.   Thawed chicken does not keep well… so if you have some  in your fridge,  it’s another sign that it’s time to make soup.  Dump it in the pot with the vegetables and add a cup of water so you’ll have things cooking nicely without sticking (and burning) to the pan.  It’s a good idea to cover the pot to keep in the moisture.

It will take about 30 minutes for the chicken to be well-cooked.  When it’s done, you’ll be able to chop it up in the pot with a spatula.   It’s okay to leave it in larger pieces, but I like to get mine all chopped up so the chicken is distributed throughout the soup.

At this point it’s time to talk seasoning.  You can start with salt and pepper.  Or use some mixed seasoning…the kind that has various ingredients already mixed in, like  paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, etc.     For this soup  add some rosemary and some thyme.  How much?   I don’t measure….but it’s probably a teaspoon or two  of each.   I just  shake some on top of  the meat/vegetable mixture,  lightly covering the mixture.   I always add a couple teaspoons of  garlic powder too…and a bay leaf.

Once you have the chicken and vegetables cooked and seasoned, add chicken broth.   Use a large box or can of chicken broth (I look for the one with no MSG and low sodium)…add another one  if you want to feed a bigger crowd.  (At this point, you can cool it all down and put it in the fridge. The flavors will be even better tomorrow!)   Next add carrots, green beans, or any leftover vegetables that you may have.  Sometimes I even add zucchini.   Make sure you have plenty of liquid in the pot…if you don’t, add more broth  or water.  (broth gives you more flavor)

tortellini

When you’re almost ready to serve the soup,  add a whole bag of Trader Joe’s Tortellini.    Keep that soup bubbling … not a rollicking boil,  just bubbling.   In 15 minutes the tortellini will be done and the soup is ready to eat!  Do not put  the tortellini in the soup until you’re almost ready to eat it.  If you do, the tortellini will absorb all the liquid and swell up,  leaving you with chicken tortellini stew.  (If this happens,  just serve it anyway …but don’t call it soup!)  You can always add more broth to the stew…you can actually keep that soup going for a long time by adding broth and other leftovers such as rice, pasta, potato, beans.   This is called “The Soup That Never Dies”  in our house.

If you are one of those who has never tried making chicken soup from scratch,  I hope you’ll go for it.   Let me know how your soup comes out! And don’t forget to add slices of fresh avocado on top!

chicken tortellini soup with avocado slices

 

Easy Southwest Chicken Soup with Avocados

Southwest Chicken Soup with avocados

I was thinking about chicken soup the other day.   People really love chicken soup.   The soup aisle in the grocery store is stacked with every kind of chicken soup imaginable.   People go to certain restaurants just to get their famous chicken soup.   Most of the time, we make our own.

What’s the hardest thing about making chicken soup?  It’s not the chopping of the vegetables.  I always start with onion and celery.   I just chop them up into a pot with a little bit of olive oil.  When they’re looking cooked, I add the chicken.    And I must confess that I don’t always defrost the chicken first.  Frozen chicken thighs (skinless/boneless) are my favorite, but I’ll use breasts if that’s what is left in the freezer.   Just a little water in the pot,  put on the lid and the chicken will cook through.   Then I chop it up.

Southwest Chicken Soup

You can call it Tortilla Soup or Tex-Mex Chicken Soup if you like.

Once the chicken is cooked and chopped with the celery and onion,  I add some chicken broth.  The boxed kind with no MSG is my go-to chicken broth…but I’ll use the canned kind too.  Just make sure there’s no MSG….and low sodium is a good idea too.  This is where the chicken soup gets its personality.  If  I’m making Southwest Chicken Soup,   I’ll add a can of corn…either creamed corn or whole kernel corn….or frozen corn.   I’m not picky when it comes to the corn.   And beans.  Whichever  canned beans that are in the pantry are fine with me…white beans, black beans or any color of bean.  Drain them first.  But don’t use  refried beans,  okay?  And don’t forget the carrots.   No self-respecting chicken soup should be without carrots.

bowl of Southwest Chicken Soup

The farmer likes to see what's in his soup, so we don't puree or thicken this soup.

No, it’s not hard to make the chicken soup…the hard part is to season it perfectly.  If you’re making  Southwest Chicken Soup,  you want the seasoning to be a little bit  spicy but not too much.  And no heavy chili taste either.   So this is what I found out last week:   Buy a package of  already-marinated Pollo Asada (Mexican chicken for grilling)  to use instead of plain chicken!   Costco has it,  major grocery stores have it,  and even the local butcher shops have  it!  (We go to T & H Meats in San Marcos, CA)

If you use  marinated/seasoned  chicken in the soup, you won’t have to worry about seasoning it at all!   Duh.   It’s not rocket science.   But I never thought of doing Southwest Chicken  Soup that way before!  And it works like a charm.   You can call it Tortilla Soup if you want.  Or Fiesta Soup.

Bacon Avocado peeled and sliced

Bacon variety Avocado

Call it what you want, but be sure to serve it with California avocado slices on top!  We happened to have some Bacon variety avocados  in the kitchen, so that’s what I used.  They’re larger than a Fuerte,  with a thinner skin, and the flavor isn’t as strong as a Fuerte or Hass avocado.   Very delicate.  Perfect with soup.  Oh, by the way, garnish with fresh cilantro and green onions  if you have some.   It’ll taste even better.

Southwest Chicken Soup with avocado and tortilla strips

Put avocado slices on top of the soup!

How do you make your chicken soup?   I’d love to hear about yours!   Leave me a comment with your special chicken soup ingredients!

Come join SoupaPalooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by KitchenAid, Red Star Yeast and Le Creuset.

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