I am not a spice girl – unless we’re speaking of gum drops.Normally I don’t tiptoe too far into the peppers other than the safe red, green and yellow bell varieties. But I recently tried a new recipe that used an ancho chile – well actually, it asked for 4 of them.
Frustrated in the produce department of our grocery store, I asked a “friendly smile” to help me hunt for the elusive ancho and he found a package in the aisle marked “dried stuff you never knew existed.” Funny how this aisle is invisible to me most of the time. He also helped me locate roasted pumpkin seeds, in the same place, which are used as a garnish.
It was impossible to see how many anchos were huddled together in this package, so I just bought one. I figured $3 for a one time spice was enough. But when I got my chain saw out to open the stiff plastic package, I found two lowly anchos. I decided that would have to do.
The recipe came from the Digest Diet Cookbook. I rarely follow any diet for more than three or four…. hours. The same was true for this very odd diet. But I did enjoy playing with their recipes. This one they called Hearty Mexican Chicken Soup. I naturally altered it to add more protein and flavor and we really liked the resulting soup.
If you don’t want to play with ancho chiles, just add red pepper flakes or chili powder to your heart’s content.
2 dried ancho chilies
2 cups boiling water
4 cups chicken broth
2 pounds skinless chicken breasts
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 TBS olive oil
1 pound zucchini – cut into 1.2 inch pieces
1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish
Soak the chiles in the boiling water for about 30 minutes. Reserve the liquid.
While the chiles are soaking, get out a large saucepan, boil the broth and add the chicken and gently cook just until the chicken is done – 10 – 15 minutes.
Remove the chicken and let it cool. Then cut it into bite sizes or shred it. Reserve the broth.
Cut off the stem of the chiles and slice them open to remove the seeds. (Do not wipe your eyes after you’ve touched the seeds or your eyes will be talking to you. Trust me on this one!)
In a blender, put the chili pieces, the reserved soaking liquid, onion, garlic, oregano, and pepper. Blend until smooth.
In a soup pot, heat the olive oil, then pour in the chile mixture and cook until it thickens. About 10 minutes.
Add the reserved chicken broth, zucchini, and beans and simmer about 10 minutes.
Stir in the chicken and salt and simmer about two minutes more.
Serve with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds.