Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ina Garten’s Mexican Chicken Soup

It’s Ina Garten week in our downtown Topeka, Kansas apartment. She is week’s selection from the Gourmet Live 50 Women Game-Changers that I and a group of my fellow food bloggers post about each Friday. And I had trouble deciding on just one recipe. Two days ago I posted about her wonderful Chicken Piccata recipe, and tonight my husband, Michael, and I enjoyed her Mexican Chicken Soup. Then I made a loaf of her Irish Soda Bread to serve as snack to the preschoolers I teach in my non-writing life.

I’ve always enjoyed watching Ina’s television programs. Her recipes are simple, but they also focus on the best and freshest ingredients. I like her style—both elegant and down-to-earth. Michael says I’m a lot like her, at least from what he sees on television. (I wish!) And I’m enamored by her loving relationship with her husband, Jeffrey. It reminds me of the time Michael and I spend together enjoying food and life.

The Mexican Chicken Soup was delicious and perfect for this unseasonably warm winter day. (Our high was more than 80 degrees!) It is full of shredded chicken, and the flavors are clean and bright. I also like how healthy the soup is, unless you had gobs of cheese and sour cream. We added a little grated cheddar and some toasted tortilla strips. Also, since Michael doesn’t like very spicy dishes, I only used one jalapeno pepper in the dish. It gave it a good flavor, but there was no heat at all. Next time I may try two peppers, just to give it a little kick.

Plus, I made it in a slow cooker. The chicken was oven roasted according to the recipes instructions, and I also sauteed the onions, carrots, and celery. Then I tossed everything into the slow cooker and let it go for 6 hours on low.

I’ve also included her Irish Soda Bread recipe. I left out the orange zest and currants since I was looking for just a plain bread to serve to my preschoolers. I haven’t tried it yet. I want to wait to cut it until Friday morning. But if the smell is any indication, it should be delicious!

Mexican Chicken Soup
From Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten

4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed
2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional
6 (6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas
For serving: sliced avocado, sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat. Cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, 1 tablespoon salt (depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock), 1 teaspoon pepper, and the cilantro, if using. Cut the tortillas in 1/2, then cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and broken tortilla chips.

Irish Soda Bread
From Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup dried currants

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Be sure to check out my fellow food bloggers to see what they prepared to honor Ina Garten:

Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia -A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets
Katie -Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Kathleen -Bake Away with Me
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Barbara - Movable Feasts
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Amy - Beloved Green
Jeanette - Healthy Living
Linda - Ciao Chow Linda
Nancy - Picadillo
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits
Claudia – Journey of An Italian Cook
Alyce – More Time at the Table
Amrita – Beetle’s Kitchen Escapades


  1. Yum---what a fun week you've had! You are so right about her relationship with her husband, on one of her shows she said he was her biggest fan, and I thought that was just the cutest thing, considering what a superstar she's become.

  2. I know many, many fans of Ina's Mexican Chicken Soup. Looks delicious. I've made her chicken piccata before and loved it. And the soda bread looks fabulous, as well. Sounds like my kind of week =)

  3. You picked three winners to represent Ina! Your soda bread looks fabulous! Nicely done!

  4. Beautiful soup; I've never made that one, tho I sort of make one up every once in a while. Hope your bread was perfect for the kiddoes. I made some today, too, and had the pastors from our neighborhood church down for lunch. It's been a great INA week!

  5. What wonderful choices to represent Ina's style of cooking. Everything looks wonderful and sounds delicious. I can't wait to give at least the glorious soup a try. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

  6. Your soup looks so good! I cannot believe I have not tried this recipe of Ina's. I will soon.

  7. My son absolutely loves Mexican food and he'll love me even more for preparing this soup for him. Great choice!

  8. Oh dear, that mexican chicken soup is making my mouth water especially with the added tortilla chips. Yummmm! How did the bread turn out? I'm sure there were no complaints at all!

  9. The kids loved the bread! They even ate it without any butter or jam. I posted a photo on the There and Back Again Facebook page if your curious.

    Thanks for all of the comments!

  10. I'm a big Ina fan and also a big fan of this soup. It's makes a lot and the left-overs reheat beautifully. Yours looks delicious.

  11. Hi There,
    The soup is looking so delightful and appetizing. Have a wonderful week ahead. Thanks & Regards, Sonia !!!