So I got this recipe from The Pioneer Woman, and then adjusted it for lazy jerks. And, even better, the version we had today was made entirely in the crock pot. Well, except for one of the garnishes, but we’ll get to that.
- 5 chicken thighs
- taco seasoning
- 1 can black beans
- 1 can corn
- 1 can Original(!!!) Rotel tomatoes and green chilies
- 1 packet fajita seasoning
- 1 packet chipotle seasoning
- 1 of those boxes of low sodium chicken broth
- mexican cheese
So I like to use chicken thighs, because they’re cheaper and pack more iron and aren’t a whole lot more fat. I’m prone to anemia and try to manage it through diet, so we’d probably go with chicken thighs even if they weren’t cheaper. The golden part of this recipe, though, is that they end up shredded and covered in seasoning, so you cannot tell the difference.
Whether I’m making this entirely in the crock pot or not, I start the chicken in the crock pot. Dump in the chicken, the fajita seasoning and the chipotle seasoning, add a generous splash of chicken broth, cover it, put it on high, and walk away for a couple hours. Hell, don’t even set a timer if you’re in scent range. Wander vaguely back in a couple hours and grab a couple forks to shred some chicken. It’ll be on the moist side, and might be tricky to get it all equally shredded, but you don’t have to care, it’s rustic or whatever. Shred enthusiastically, trying not to scratch the hell out of the sides of your crock pot, make sure the seasoning’s all mixed in, put the lid back on, and leave it for however long. I want to say I usually leave it for another two hours, but I really don’t know. I think the batch I made with tequila instead of chicken broth for this stage (excellent, definitely recommend, we just don’t keep tequila in the house) I left for six hours total. It’s pretty forgiving!
If you’re making it stovetop, you can turn off the crock pot now, and either transfer the chicken to a pot or to a container if you don’t feel like doing more cooking for that day. It all works! And if you’re going to move forward with the soup another day, no one will notice if you stick a little bit of your delicious shredded chicken in a quesadilla and have one of the most quality quesadilla experiences of your life.
But to do this crock pot style, now’s when you add the black beans, corn, chilies and tomatoes, garlic, and chicken broth. If you drain the beans and then rinse them (I have started using a colander for this since we have a dishwasher, but rinsing them in the can using the mostly-detached can lid to keep the beans in is also a legitimate life choice), everything tastes a little better. I added a heaping tablespoon of diced garlic, because garlic is good in everything and makes life better. For the chilies and tomatoes, make sure you have the Original – Rotel also makes Chunky, and that was a horrible and tragic surprise. Who likes big chunks of tomato?
Just, like, dump everything in there. Go for it. Stir it, add some extra taco seasoning if you’re feeling it. Cover and ignore until you’re hungry (the stove top version only needs like half an hour). If it starts getting really enthusiastically hot and boiling over or anything, turn it down to low, but that should take ages. This soup is really forgiving.
When you want to eat it, fire up your skillet or non-stick frying pan and grab a tortilla. Cut it in half, then cut that half into strips, then cut the strips so they’re just a couple inches long. And here’s a tip: you can use stale tortillas for this. As long as they are still otherwise good, go for it, because now you’re gonna dump them in the skillet and fry ’em until they’re starting to turn golden brown. Flip them so both sides get crispy, using either a flat spatula or (if you’re an idiot like me) your fingers.
Dish up the soup and add some shredded cheese – Monterey Jack, or one of those pre-shredded Mexican blends you can probably get at the supermarket – and your delicious crispy tortilla strips, and you have utterly delicious soup.
I usually just cut up one tortilla for the two of us and that makes plenty of tortilla strips for a bowl each, but the soup serves like four to six depending on bowl size, so adjust for that. Like all soups, though, it’s even better the next day, which makes being able to whip up fresh tortilla strips in about five minutes fantastic: everything’s still fresh and delicious.