Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup for the Soul {Meet the M Family}

     Sound the trumpets....Buh buh ba dahh!! (I think I would be much better suited for video blogging with all the sound effects I make) but if you have a creative mind you can hear what I do.  ***VERY FIRST DEPLOYMENT DINNER BLOG POST!!!***

     And, as with many other kinds of "firsts" it is a little shaky, not quite how I envisioned it but with all of our guys deploying around us I can safely say that motivation is lacking right now.  I plan on December being the month of healing, then ladies, we all better BRING IT!! ;) My first Deployment Dinner was a little rushed by both the weather and the need to see a dear friend off before she caught a plane, but here is what you can expect: an intro of the family, a bit about how I know the family, a few pictures, and a couple interview questions and answers spread through out and then the recipe for what we ate!! In the future I am hoping for more pictures of the family, the food, etc but it is a work in progress. Enjoy!!  

The first Deployment Dinner took place surrounded by some high winds, freezing rain and an impending flight back to Ohio.  Meet the 'M' Family; Cullen (deployed Daddy hero), Jessica (Awesome Army Wife and Mommy), and the kiddos P-Man and L. 

It was the perfect weather for some tummy warming soup, and some good conversation between friends; I met Jessica during the Yellow Garter event where we shot weapons, drove Humvees, Ruck marched and jumped out of a 35 foot Airborne training tour which pretty much made us totally awesome Army Wives!  Jessica claims to have, "the gift of gab" and the funny thing is SO DO I!!  It made for a quick friendship and it helps that we have kids about the same age.  P-Man and my little Cha Cha have become BFFs and plan on having Skype dates over the next few months and L and my Moo Moo have become great friends when they get the chance to play.

Jessica's husband Cullen is a Medic; this is their first duty station and first deployment.  I have a strong connection to Medics, as many of you know that is what I was when I was in the Army (gasp!! you were in the Army?) Yes...and in fact, Jessica *LOVES* to tell everyone that little tid bit of information when she introduces me to people.  I think it is sweet, and funny, she thinks I am pretty rad.  I have to say I think she is pretty rad too.   

Jessica grew up in the great state of Ohio like my Mom! Go Buckeyes??!!?? Can I say that?  I don't follow sports but I do enjoy making peanut butter "Buckeyes" but I leave mine blind- no eyes (totally off topic).  Another recipe...another time.

I know how hard a first deployment can be Jess, but you are strong, kind hearted and a loyal friend.  Your faith and strength will get you through this.  You make some delicious soft ginger snaps (not so snappy...but still so delicious) and I look forward to when you return so that I can have some more cookies, chats and chai with you!  Or at least you can drink the chai and I will drink the coffee.  

*What foods can’t you wait to eat while your husband is away?
Thin mints

*What has been your most challenging moment (or two) over the last years in the Army?
Adjusting to AK!
(I will agree, AK as a first duty station would be a little bit of a shock!)

While the Mommy's were going to sit and enjoy a delicious bowl of Chicken Tortilla Soup the kids enjoyed a deployment standby...chicken nuggets! There was steamed broccoli though :)

*What helps you through a deployment?

*What’s a typical evening meal like in your home?
Meat, potato, veggie, we are Irish after all, always a potato!
(I love that!)
*Your proudest kitchen moment:
(I will say girl, you can bake!!)
*Your worst kitchen moment:
Cullen telling me after 5 yrs of marriage that he really doesn’t like this dish or that one or that one. 
<yikes Jess!  I don't know how Cullen will feel about Chicken Tortilla Soup, but it might be something to add to the recipe box>

I love how bright and colorful this chicken tortilla soup is!!  This soup includes chipotle chili peppers in adobo which can be found in a can on the ethnic food aisle with the Hispanic foods, and even though this recipe only uses 1/2 to 1 whole pepper you can freeze the remaining peppers for other recipes, chili, or more tortilla soup.  The peppers add a nice smoky, spice to the soup and shouldn't be omitted, at least not in my opinion.  If you like more spice, add more chipotle pepper or a dash of hot sauce to your own bowl.  This is such a fresh, filling and tasty soup that tastes great the next day as leftovers and even freezes well.

{Chicken Tortilla Soup}
adapted from Rachael Ray's 365 No Repeats Recipe book

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces
Salt and ground pepper
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 Tbsp. ground coriander
1/2 Chipotle chili pepper in adobo finely chopped (you can add more if you like it spicier)
1 large onion chopped
1 small bag of frozen yellow corn
1 red bell pepper, chopped
5 Tbsp flour
3-4 cans of chicken broth (enough to cover) 
2, 15 oz. cans of black beans (rinsed and drained)
Squirt of lime
Dash of hot sauce (I prefer Tapatio)
Tortilla chips
1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro and shredded cheese for garnish

Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add chicken, season with salt and pepper, cumin, coriander, and chipotle pepper.  Cook until the chicken is lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the onion, corn kernels and red bell pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently for about 3 minutes.  Dust the chicken and vegetables with the flour, stir until the flour coats everything.  Add the chicken broth and turn the heat up to high.  Bring the soup to a simmer and then add the black beans.  Simmer the soup for 30 minutes or until it reaches a consistency you like.  Stir frequently.  Add a squirt of lime, a dash of Tapatio hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste.  
Crush a handful of tortilla chips and add to the bottom of a soup bowl.  Ladle soup over the chips (the tortilla part comes in), top with cheese and fresh, chopped cilantro.  Enjoy!!  Will make 4-6 generous servings.


Ali said...

Hi Lea-Ann, I have just stumbled across your blog....what a great idea! I am from Australia, and spent a couple of months in Houston last year where I was introduced to Chicken Tortilla soup...and loved it! I will have to try making this recipe one day. Have started a new project this year to cook one new dish a week, and this would certainly fit the bill! Thanks for sharing, Ali

Lea-Ann @ Deployment Kitchen 365 said...

Thanks Ali!! I hope you enjoy this version of it :)