Saturday, September 22, 2012

Real Food, Real Easy: Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

As things have gotten a bit busier and more stressful around here with the big guy starting kindergarten and the hubby having been on nights at work,  I admit my meal planning and recipe excitement has suffered quite a bit. There have been a lot of grilled chicken or fish with side of pasta, rice, salad, etc. type of meals and more pick up food than we've had in a good long while as well :(   

Thankfully, my hubby has been back on day shift for 2 weeks now! Its great to be coming out of the restrictions that come as a result of having a partner who sleeps when everyone is awake and away at work when everyone else is sleeping. Even his days off were messed up because his sleep cycles had to be maintained.

Now that he is back on days, I've got to get my act back together!! He doesn't really like to take sandwiches and I don't want to buy him things from boxes so that means that he either has leftovers or premade/prefrozen meals-- either of which he prefers to trying to cobble something together while getting ready in the morning (did I mention he leaves for work at a ridiculous 4:15 am???) Needless to say, I am not up at that time to make him something to take. So all of his food has to be ready the night before and withstand both travel and reheating.

I've been going over some of my favorite convenience foods and sorting out those that can be real food adapted easily and also finding some fun/easy freezer meals & grab and go items to help keep us more on track (and less likely to be picking up the phone to place an order at 5:15.....) So, I'm creating this new category-- its especially for things that either come together very quickly (like 30 min or less) or can be premade & frozen or thrown in the crock pot. 

This particular recipe is one of our long time family favorites. I got the recipe from my bestie and adapted it for my personally picky eating. It's a dish that gets a lot of appreciation as it hits all of the key cooking categories: 1) little to no prep  2) little to no supervision while cooking 3) tastes great   4) adaptable for a variety of tastes/allergies  5) freezes well!  6) high in nutrient density/low in calories.  7) uses mainly pantry staples.

To make this a real food recipe, very few swap outs were needed. For each of the canned items, I am using organic with no added sugar and low or no salt where possible. You can also use your own prepared beans or frozen corn. For the chicken, I am using a free range chicken. This is a great application for some of these tougher free range/pastured meats that do well after cooking on low heat for a long time. Instead of using the packets of pre-prepared taco seasoning, I am using a homemade blend of spices from this recipe. Finally, for the tortilla part-- you can purchase store bought tortilla chips (watch your ingredient lists) or simply fry up a few shreds of corn tortillas you have at home or omit them all together (as we often do).

Recipe: Chicken (Tortilla Optional) Soup

1-1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts (still frozen okay!)
1 15 oz can kidney beans
1 15 oz can pinto beans
1 15 oz can whole kernel corn (frozen okay)
1 8-15 oz can tomato sauce
1 packet taco seasoning (or 2 TBS homemade)

Sour cream
shredded cheese
diced green chilies
tortilla chips or strips

1) Put chicken breasts into crock pot.
2) Open all your cans and dump into pot on top of chicken.
3) Add in seasoning mix. Stir. For a thicker soup, use only those liquids from the canned food. For thinner soup, add water to top off the crockpot.

4) Turn your crockpot on high and walk away for 6 hours.
5) Remove cooked chicken breasts. Using two forks, shred chicken. Return to crockpot. STIR.

6) Serve soup with personal add ons. I like to set up a buffet style bar with shredded cheddar, sour cream, tortilla strips, and diced green chilies.

Leftovers do freeze well or you can strain out the soup solids and make burritos or other dishes with them (like the quesadillas shown below!) to get some distance out of this one dish.

As always, feel free to comment with your thoughts on this recipe!

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1 comment:

  1. Also good with ground hamburger. But the chicken version is best!