Well, I'm still under the weather with a bad cold, but it's not so bad that I can't taste anything - thank goodness! However, strong flavors are preferable when I am in this state and of course, I need my chicken soup. So at times like these, I resort to an old standby - Mexican Chicken Soup. This is a versatile spicy soup made up mostly of things that can be taken off the pantry shelf. My kids requested this soup all the time - it was their favorite when it was cold outside and they could doctor their heat to their own liking and they liked it hot. They also loved to crumble up tortilla chips and sprinkle lettuce and cheese on top. It is full of vegetables and I often substitute green beans for zucchini and love to add corn. I often cook a cob or two of corn directly in the soup, take it out after 10 minutes, cut off the kernels and then add them back to the soup. I also like using fresh chopped tomatoes, but canned diced tomatoes are fine if you don't have fresh ones. It is best with fresh green pepper, but canned green chilies are good too. Serve this soup with a plate of limes, a bowl of tortilla chips, some shredded lettuce and some sour cream, cheddar cheese or better yet, crumble some Mexican Cotija Cheese on top to make it extra special.
Mexican Chicken Soup
8 - 10 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade)
1 15 oz. can black beans, pinto beans or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
4 medium tomatoes chopped (or 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes - reserve juice for clearer broth)
2 boneless chicken breasts (uncooked) cut into small cubes (can also use 1 lb ground turkey - browned or 2 cups leftover cooked chicken)
2 garlic cloves minced
1 onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped (or 1 small can green chilies diced)
1/2 cup long grain rice (can also substitute Fideos noodles)
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 small or 1 medium zucchini diced (or can also use a handful of green beans trimmed and cut into small pieces)
1 cup corn kernels - fresh cooked and cut off the cob or frozen
2 teaspoons Chili Powder
1 teaspoon ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper or a few dashes of hot pepper sauce
Pour chicken broth into a large soup pot and add black beans, tomatoes and chili powder. Heat while sauteing garlic, onions and green pepper in a frying pan with the oil. Stir until onion is translucent. Add rice and stir until slightly golden. Add in cumin and heat until just fragrant. Add to hot soup. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes. Add zucchini (or green beans), corn, chicken pieces and oregano. Cook an additional 10 minutes until zucchini is soft. Add Cayenne Pepper or a few dashes of hot pepper sauce to taste.
Five Element Analysis
Soup is representative of the Water way of cooking, but the use of many different vegetables gives you the biggest clue that this may be a very balanced soup. The chicken and the chicken broth add the Wood Element, the black beans bring in the Water Element, the zucchini and corn represent the Earth Element and the tomatoes, chili powder and hot sauce make sure that the Fire Element is covered. The cumin, oregano and rice round off the Five Element balance by contributing the Metal Element. All of the Five Element Foods are covered in one bowl and any of the garnishes are extra!