Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup
A shopping-centric recipe that uses ingredients in amounts that you can buy in grocery stores.
Close your eyes and envision this:
You find a recipe you want to try and make your shopping list. The recipe calls for 1 cup of “white button mushrooms, sliced” so you find your way to the shroom section in the store. There are loose shrooms and packaged shrooms. Of the packaged variety, there are sliced and whole. But, they only come in packages sorted by weight (typically 8oz). Do you go for the loose ones and guess how many you’ll need to end up with 1 cup when sliced? Do you go with the pre-sliced ones because you’re okay with that time-saving short cut? Or do you go with the pack of whole ones because they happen to look the best that day?
You can open your eyes now…
Clearly, there is no correct answer. I’ll tell you what I would do though. I’d go with the 8oz pack of whole mushrooms because they look the best and they are perfectly portioned into a weight that I know I can consistently count on being available to me every time I walk in the store. Plus, I can use a knife and fresh cut are always better than pre-cut.
But, what do you do with the leftover mushrooms after you get 1 cup of sliced ones? You probably put them in the fridge thinking and hoping that you’ll somehow find a use for them only to eventually have to toss them.
I’m here to fix that!
I menu plan, shop, and cook dishes for a living. I know sizes and amounts that grocery items are sold in.
Tom Kha Gai? A whole 8 oz pack of mushrooms.
Roasted Red Pepper Soup? Red peppers in their whole.
Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup? A 1lb. bag of shrimp.
Tzatziki? I’m turning that whole container of Greek yogurt into a tzatziki that will last for days.
I’m not saying you can get through every one of these shopping-centric recipes without having any leftover items. What I’m saying is they’ll be easier to shop for, you’ll have fewer leftover items, and the recipe will be easier to make again without actually needing the recipe.
Hit up Trader Joe’s for all the ingredients in this one. Many of my recipes are this way. They know me by name at that place. Like Cheers, but without the bar part.
Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup
This one uses a whole can of tomato paste and fire roasted tomatoes, a whole pack of chicken thighs which typically come in roughly 1 ½lb. packs, and 1 ½lb cheese which is typically sold in 8oz, 1lb and 2lb blocks (Buy the 2lb. You know a little extra cheese in the fridge won’t go to waste). After buying 2Q of stock and using the initial 6C, you’ll want to have that extra 2C to adjust the texture to your liking at the end.
Yield: Approx. 2 ½ Quarts
About 1 ½lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
6C chicken stock, plus more as needed
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 14.5oz can fire roasted tomatoes (with green chiles if you can find them)
1 t salt
1 ½lb sharp cheddar cheese, grated fine
Simmer chicken, stock, tomato paste, tomatoes, seasoning, and salt in a covered large stock pot over medium heat until the chicken is cooked through and shreds apart easily (approx. 30 minutes).
Remove the chicken and set aside to let cool.
Bring the broth to a low simmer and start whisking in cheese in small batches letting each one completely melt and incorporate before adding more. Patience is needed here. If you rush this process, the texture of the soup may be off*.
Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull apart by hand into bite-sized pieces and return to the soup.
Season with salt to taste and add more stock if a thinner soup is desired.
Serve hot and garnish as desired.
Garnish Ideas: Chile lime sour cream, pico de gallo, green onions, cilantro
Vegetarian: Omit chicken and replace chicken stock with vegetable stock
Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker: Instead of simmering, cook in pressure cooker for 20 minutes, then proceed with recipe with the lid open and on a simmer or warm setting.
*If you don’t have J. Fae house seasoning on hand, you should. But, really, if you don’t and don’t want to make some, use 2t cumin, 2t chile powder, 1t granulated garlic, and 1t granulated onion.
*If you do rush this process and the soup’s texture seems broken, you should be able to fix it by blending at high speed until smooth. You’ll need to do this in two batches. Another trick is to use sodium citrate at the beginning of the recipe, but that’s a whole other post.