It has been cool and a little dreary for the past week or so in southern Kentucky. I think April and March got confused and traded places weather-wise. We had beautiful warm, almost hot days in late March and now we are having cool, almost cold days and nights. I am not sure what is going on, but it's very strange. I am reading that it even has some of the birds migrating up from Mexico and South America confused and they are getting here way early. It is the type of weather that makes me want soup and I know we won't have a whole lot of cool weather like this for soup after April so I am going to eat my soup now.
White chicken chili is such an easy soup or really it's a stew. Doesn't Rachel Ray call that a stoup? The 'crunchy things' part of this comes from when my son was little. There was a restaurant we ate at that had the best tortilla soup that we all loved. It had lots of good stuff in it that he would never have eaten otherwise, like zucchini and tomatoes and onions. More than likely he was pushing those things around in his bowl and not actually eating them, but it made the feel like he was so it worked for me...lol.
I decided that since he loved it so much, I would try to make it at home. I made my version and it was pretty good. My son's critique of it was that it would just be perfect if you could make the 'crunchy things' they put on top of it, because, "Mama, that is what really makes it". We tried tortilla chips in it. No, that wasn't the same. So, I got some flour tortillas, cut them in strips with my kitchen shears and deep fried them. They were a hit! So now when I make any sort of Mexican soup...tortilla, white chili, taco soup, I have to make the crunchy things to go on top. They really do turn a plain soup into something a little more appetizing. One warning, if you ever start doing this, your family will want these every time you make soup, so be prepared.
Here is what you will need:
White beans (navy or great northern) chicken bouillon cubes or canned chicken broth, onion, white chicken chili mix, Philadelphia cooking cream Sante Fe flavor, jalapeno pepper rings, cheddar cheese, chicken breasts, and flour tortillas for your crunchy things.
I coated some chicken breasts with a little oil and then sprinkled them with chili powder, salt and pepper, then roasted them in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes (depending on thickness).
Soften the onion in a little vegetable oil.
To the onions add 5-6 cups of water (depends on how thick you like it...I add 6 because I like some broth in it), 3 Knorr chicken bouillon cubes, the white chicken chili mix, and jalapenos chopped. Stir to mix the chili mix in well. Add the chopped or shredded chicken and the 2 cans of beans (don't need to be drained). Bring this up to a boil and then turn back to simmer for about 30 minutes.
At the end add the Philadelphia Santa Fe flavored cooking cream. I set this out when I start to cook to bring it up to almost room temperature so that when I add it to the hot soup it won't break. You can also temper it with some of the hot soup to gradually bring it up to temperature. You can substitute an 8oz cream cheese for this cooking cream. It was on sale and I had a coupon so I tried it and it is so good. It adds a zip of flavor to this also. I do make it with just the cream cheese also and add a little more spices to it with Tabasco and cayenne pepper, but go easy on these until you taste test for heat.
Now cut your tortillas in strips like this. I usually do about 4 or 5 large ones, but if you have company you will need to do a lot more. If you have kitchen shears they work great, if not, lay them on your cutting board and use sharp knife. If you have some tortillas that are not so fresh and are sort of dry, this is a great way to use them up.
Drop by batches in hot oil. I just use my little Fry Daddy for this...works perfectly. Watch these closely because they cook in no time. They will brown on the side that hits the oil first and you need gently flip them over to brown the other side. I use the utensil that you get with the Fry Daddy or you could us a metal slotted spoon. When they brown, pull them out carefully and drain a paper towel lined plate. Immediately sprinkle with salt and do the next batch.
These are also really good sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar for a sweet snack or to use as a garnish on a dessert.
I top each bowl with some shredded cheddar cheese, some sliced green onions, and the 'crunchy things'. Have a plate of extra crunchies on the table also cause they go fast!
3 cups chopped or shredded chicken breast ( I roast mine)
2 cans white beans (navy or great northern)
1 envelope of white chicken chili mix (you can substitute 1 tsp. garlic powder, 2 tsp. cumin and 1 tsp. oregano)
3 Knorr chicken bouillon cubes (if you use another brand of the small square ones use about 6)
5-6 cups water (depending how thick you like it)
1 container of Philadelphia Santa Fe cooking cream (can substitute 8 oz. cream cheese, dash of cayenne and a dash of Tabasco)
1/4 cup chopped jalapenos (can substitute a small can of mild green chillies if you don't like too much heat)
5-6 large flour tortillas
cheddar cheese for garnish (optional)
green onions for garnish (optional)