This Chicken Tortilla Soup made my day. Not only did I love it, my entire family was in love(on the food front at least)... and that is not an easy task to do. The only downside to the dish was it happened during the Steeler's loss to the Bronco's in the playoffs. That doesn't really have anything to do with the dish itself, but it did have a little to do with my husbands mood... he is from the Pittsburgh area and a die hard fan.
There are a couple of things that I did differently than the recipe. I didn't prepare my chicken exactly the way she did. I am an avid coupon user as well, so when meat goes on sale I buy it in large quantities and freeze it. Just recently, I started boiling several packages of chicken, shredding it, and then freezing it. I find it is much easier and faster to pull out shredded chicken then to realize at 4 PM, I haven't laid out any meat for dinner. In addition, it thaws so much faster in these smaller packages. This time, that really paid off. I thawed the meat and then added some of the spices (I used the exact amount she suggested) to a bag and shook it to coat all of the chicken. The chicken was perfect and I was thrilled with the ease of preparing it.
When I ran to the store to grab the corn meal, beans and peppers, but the red peppers were $1.79 each, which I thought was a little bit high, so instead, I opted for twice as much green pepper and no red pepper. This spring I will be planting my own garden, to include all types of peppers. Does anyone know if peppers freeze well, once diced? If they freeze well, I will do as she suggested and add all of the pepper colors :)
In the recipe, it calls for 4 cups of warm water, so I was a little confused here. She referenced water once instead of chicken broth, and then a second time for the cornmeal. I used the 4 cups of hot water with the cornmeal, but it was way too much. Not to mention, she also mentions a "little warm water". Anyhow, I found a consistency that matched her pictures... thank goodness for those. And... it did to the soup what she said it would do- DELIGHTFUL!!!
For the toppings, I forgot the cilantro at the store (that was the one I wanted to try the most... next time), so we used avocado only. I was thrilled that my guys were not trying to add cheese and were instead satisfied with the healthier avocado. Even Super Picky Eater (husband) said next time we could add more avocado. This made my heart smile. Next time, I will also add sour cream and cheese to mine, although none of my guys eat sour cream. I would have added it this time, but we were out at home. It wasn't one of the things I checked for before making my list, because we almost always have some... lesson learned.
To sum it up, this delicious soup has made it into our rotation of soups for the winter. I loved it and so did all of my boys. It was hearty and comforting and I may even try making a cornbread to serve with it next time. I know the next time won't be that far away and I will triple or quadruple the recipe, so I have some extra to freeze...