Chicken Tortilla Soup with Homemade Goat Queso Fresco

Chicken Tortilla Soup with Goat Queso Fresco

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The Completed Chicken Tortilla Soup with Goat Queso Fresco

Over a week ago, I took a cheese making course with Debra Amrein-Boyes from The Farm House Natural Cheeses. She was very passionate and makes some mighty fine cheeses. The class was fun and very educating. Her Goat Gouda was my favorite tasting cheese that she shared with us that day.

The class gave me a bit of confidence with cheese making. I even bought Debra`s cheese making book: 200 easy Homemade Cheese Recipes. I found it fascinating that whole milk can be transformed into so many variations of cheeses. Basically it comes down to science and how it is processed (heating temperature, fermentation of bacteria, coagulation and draining).

This week, I decided to make Queso Fresco with goats milk (since I am a tad sensitive to casein in cows milk) and what a perfect opportunity to combine it with a tortilla soup! Queso Fresco is probably one of the simplest soft cheeses to make. I was very surprised on how easy it was and how good the results were. This blog post has two sections; first is the ingredients and instructions for the tortilla soup and second; how I made the yummy Queso Fresco.

The Verdict of Chicken Tortilla Soup with Goat Queso Fresco? I really adore this soup because of the variety of tasty elements in it. Especially having chunks of corn made it look very rustic to me. Although it was time consuming to make the homemade tortillas as well as the Queso Fresco – it was well worth it. I am sure I would make this again in future. The Queso Fresco is good for up to two weeks and you can use on top of other soups or even salads. I would not suggest to add the tortillas in the pot of soup as they would get soggy for leftovers (that is if you have any left over). Keep the tortilla pieces in a paper bag until you make your next bowl of left over soup. Also, this soup is not super spicy. For those soup-a-holics who like it hot, add in a little more chiles!

Chicken Tortilla Soup with Goat Queso Fresco Ingredients

  • 7 Roma tomatoes, halved
  • 1 white onion, cut into chunks
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 fresh poblano chiles
  • 6 6-inch corn tortillas cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 7 cups chicken broth
  • 8 ounces roasted chicken, shredded
  • 2 corn husks
  • 1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup Queso Fresco
  • 1/4 cup lime juice, plus thin wedges for garnish
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Chicken Tortilla Soup with Goat Queso Fresco Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to  425 F (210 C). Place tomatoes, corn (still in husks), onion and garlic on a tin foil covered baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until tomatoes and onion are soft and garlic begin to brown. Remove from heat.
  2. Stem and seed chile peppers; cut crosswise into ½ inch slices. In medium skillet, heat the ¼ cup of canola oil over medium heat until very hot and not smoking. Add the sliced chiles and fry for about 20 seconds. Using a slotted spoon or thongs, remove the chile peppers and transfer them to a paper towel lined plate. Chop and and reserve chiles for soup. Reserve oil in skillet.
  3. Working in batches, fry the tortilla strips in the chile infused oil until the strips start to brown. Drain tortilla strips and transfer them to a paper towel lined plate.
  4. Add 5 roasted tomatoes (keeping two aside), onion, garlic, cumin, one cup of stock into large pot. Using a hand blender, blend until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Roughly chop the 2 left over roasted tomatoes. Add into the soup.
  6. Add the rest of broth and chopped chile peppers to soup.
  7. Cook soup over medium heat just until boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Husk corn and take off cob.
  9. Add roasted shredded chicken, corn and beans. Simmer for 5 more minutes; add lime juice, stir, cover and keep warm.
  10. Ladle soup in bowls
  11. Add tortilla strips, Queso Fresco, lime wedge, avocado, and cilantro.

 

Goat Queso Fresco

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The Completed Goat Queso Fresco

Goat Queso Fresco Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon whole goat milk (avoid homogenized or ultra-pasteurized)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar

Goat Queso Fresco Instructions:

  1. In a 6 quart dutch oven or heavy stock pot (Important: do not use aluminum pot), combine milk and salt. Heat mixture over medium-high heat to 190 F (use a quick read thermometer) stirring gently and frequently. Remove from heat.
  2. Gradually add vinegar, stirring gently, let stand for 5 minutes. Stir gently (some curds should start form), if it needs to stand for 5- 10 minutes to see curds, let it.
  3. Place a double-thickness cheesecloth in a colander set in sink. Carefully pour mixture into the colander, discarding the liquid whey. Allow cheese to drain for 15 to 20 minutes to remove all of the excess whey.
  4. Gather cheese and transfer to a small bowl. If you prefer to make a Queso Fresco mold, line a plastic container with plastic wrap and place another container with a can of food to weigh it down.
  5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.
  6. Cheese can be stored in fridge for 1-2 weeks.

**It is very important to sterilize your pot as well as any measuring cups, spoons, thermometer. Before making the Queso Fresco, fill the pot with water bring to a boil and sanitize all utensils and place on clean dry cloth. Wash your hands well.

Original soup recipe from: Magazine: better Homes and Gardens Special Interest- Mexican, page 87, April 2011

Original Queso fresco recipe from: Magazine: better Homes and Gardens Special Interest- Mexican, page 25, April 2011

What I changed from original soup recipe:

  • added lime, cumin, corn and black beans
  • replaced chorizo with shredded roasted chicken
  • used olive oil for roasted veggies
  • used more onion, garlic and tomatoes, and broth
  • used cilantro instead of epazote

What I changed from original Queso Fresco recipe:

  • used whole goats milk instead of cows milk
  • let it stand more for curdling process

Soup Mistress Rating for Chicken Tortilla Soup with Goat Queso Fresco:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (4.5/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5) 

Playing Russian Roulette With Asian-Style Chicken Mushroom Noodle Soup

Asian-style Chicken Mushroom Noodle Soup

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The completed Asian-style Chicken Noodle Soup with pea shoots

Just the other day, I decided to play recipe russian roulette and have some fun.

Being quite adventurous, I grabbed one of my many soup cookbooks and with my eyes closed shut I opened to a random soup recipe page. I decided that the page I landed on would be my next soup I was to cook up.

And Asian-Style Chicken Mushroom Noodle Soup is was!

I enjoyed making and eating this soup. I did make a few adjustments though from the original recipe. It originally called for some canned straw mushrooms and I did not want any part of that soup desecration. I am very lucky to have many options of mushrooms in the lower mainland, so I substituted the canned straw mushrooms for fresh enoki and shiitake mushrooms. Yum.

The Verdict of Asian-Style Chicken Mushroom Noodle Soup? I adjusted the recipe and brought back my superstar ingredient that I used in my Spicy Oyster Chowder, which was the thai red chile. That little chile is so powerful and adds the perfect amount of heat to any soup – it played very well with the sesame oil and fish sauce. I swear I am going to keep red thai chiles around in my kitchen as a staple from now on. This soup also had a nice texture with the enoki mushrooms (one of my favorites) and the shiitake mushrooms had a delicate yet meaty flavor. The soup the next day had a more intense flavor indeed. I was a tad surprised that the original recipe called for cinnamon and cloves though, but they also worked very well in the soup.

I would make this soup in the future and would not change a thing from how I adjusted and made it myself.

Asian-style Chicken Mushroom Noodle Soup Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 8 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh gingerroot, finely chopped
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 small red thai chile, finely chopped
  • 3 cups rotisserie chicken (1 small chicken), shredded
  • 5 large shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 package enoki mushrooms (cut off and discard the roots)
  • 4 oz(125g) uncooked thin rice noodles
  • 1 bunch (6oz) pea shoots
  • pepper

Asian-style Chicken Mushroom Noodle Soup Instructions:

  1. Add oil to large saucepan/pot. Saute onion for 2-3 minutes on med/high heat until soft.
  2. Add stock, fish sauce, sesame oil, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and red thai chile.
  3. Bring to a gentle boil; reduce heat, simmer for 25-35 minutes.
  4. Remove star anise, cinnamon and cloves from pan, and discard.
  5. Add chicken and mushrooms to soup; simmer an additional 3-5 minutes or until chicken is hot.
  6. While soup is simmering (in step 3 above), bring 2 liters of water to boil, add noodles and remove from heat. Let stand 2-4 minutes or until softened. Drain in colander.
  7. Divide noodles among serving bowls.
  8. Ladle soup on top of noodles in each bowl.
  9. Top with pea shoots and season with pepper.

The Original Recipe: All New Soups, Stews and Chili’s, A pamphlet book by the Pampered Chef (Page 21).

What I changed from original recipe:

  • replaced vegetable oil with olive oil
  • replaced watercress with pea shoots
  • add red thai chile
  • added 1 tsp sesame oil
  • replaced canned straw mushrooms with fresh shitake and enoki mushrooms
  • didn’t bother with using a sachet for cinnamon, star anise, ginger and cloves.
  • left ginger finely chopped in the soup (original recipe instructed to have it in sachet and discard it after the simmer).

Soup Mistress Rating for Asian-style Chicken Noodle Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (4.5/5) 
Taste: (5/5) 

Chicken Avgolemono – A Greek Goddess Soup Indeed

Chicken Avgolemono Soup

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Chicken Avgolemono Soup

I had in the back of my mind for quite sometime to make Greek Egg-lemon Soup (also known as Avgolemono = a soup made with lemon juice and egg mixture). It has been about 2 years since I have had this soup when visiting my girlfriend Karen in Long Beach, California. We went to Cafe Ambrosia and they served up a really tasty bowl of the Avgolemono soup (I think it was a soup of the day back then because I don’t see it on their menu online).

Last night, I decided to make the soup for my friend Brain Pape, a mortgage broker, who was coming over to help with my remortgage and get some paperwork signed. He’s quite a cook himself and makes a killer Vichyssoise, so I was hoping that this soup turned out yummy for him.

The Verdict? I think this soup is a Greek Goddess Soup indeed. I will make this soup again in a heartbeat. The homemade chicken broth with the tangy lemon-egg was so very velvety smooth.  I actually woke up in the middle of night to have a little bowl of this soup as a snack. This was out of character for me – I’m not really one for evening snacks – but I was craving it!

I decided to purchase a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and take the meat off the breast and then use the carcass for the stock. I have used raw whole chicken in the past with all meat on to do the broth but the breast meat chicken gets to rubbery to use in the soup. I’d rather shred the roasted chicken and keep to the side to put into the soup.

Chicken Stock Ingredients:

  • whole roasted chicken carcass
  • 8-9 cups water
  • 2 carrots, chopped in large pieces
  • 1 onion, cut in quarter
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped in large pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • salt

Chicken Avgolemono Soup Ingredients:

  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup long-grain rice
  • 14oz cooked chicken (white meat), shredded
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2-4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • pepper

Chicken Stock Instructions:

  1. Cut off white breast meat from the roasted chicken (excluding skin – keep it for stock) , shred and put aside in fridge to use for soup later on.
  2. Bring chicken carcass (with skin and dark meat left on), onion, carrot, celery, garlic and salt to a boil, simmer over low heat for at least 1 hour (or 1.5 hours) with lid partially on.
  3. Strain stock.

Chicken Avgolemono Soup Instructions:

  1. Heat the chicken stock in a large saucepan and add the rice.
  2. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  3. Add the chicken and warm through for 2 -3 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, whisk the eggs with the lemon juice in a small bowl. Add two ladles of the warm stock (slowly one at a time) and whisk until thinned.
  5. Remove the soup form the heat and gradually pour in the egg mixture, whisking to amalgamate it. It should thicken in the residual heat, but if you need to, place it over low heat for just 3-4 minutes, stirring the bottom of the pan to thicken. Do not return to high heat once the egg has been added, or it will boil and scramble.
  6. Add in the lemon zest and give it a final stir.
  7. To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with parsley, extra lemon zest, and pepper. Serve immediately.

Original recipe is from this book: Soups: No-fuss Recipes for Hearty Soups by Tonia George

What I changed from original recipe:

  • omitted fried croutons – I don’t think this soup needs it.
  • made my own chicken stock.
  • added lemon zest – I love lemon zest!

Soup Mistress Rating for Chicken Avgolemono Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (4.5/5) 
Taste: (5/5) 

Curry Chicken Soup – A Great Noodleless Under The Weather Soup

curry-chicken-soup-2

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The completed curry chicken soup

Last week, I felt a bit under the weather. In the past, I would attempt to make the same homemade chicken noodle soup to make me feel better. But not this time, I wanted to try something different and went on a hunt for a soup that I can add chicken and garlic to make me feel better.

I found this Curry Chicken Soup recipe in a cookbook called “Soup Bowl” – I modified it a tad to my liking though.

The verdict? This soup is pretty good and even better the next day! The superstar ingredient is the apple – it gives the soup a subtle sweetness, yet not too sweet. Even though this soup seems quite creamy, there is no cream or milk what-so-ever. The lemon juice gives it a very nice zest. The shredded raw carrot adds a nice touch as well – I think the next time I make it I would add even more!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 and ½ cups white onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 and ½ cups parsnip, chopped small
  • 1 and ½ cups carrots finely sliced chopped small, plus some shredded for garnish
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped small
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons mild curry powder
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 6oz / 175 g cooked chicken, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
  • salt and pepper

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, ginger and garlic, saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the parsnip, carrots, and apple and continue to cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.
  3. Stir in the curry powder until the vegetables are well coated, then pour in the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Keeping a cup of the solids aside, transfer the balance of soup to a food processor or blender. Add lemon juice and puree soup until smooth.
  5. In a separate pan, fry up chicken pieces on medium to high heat.
  6. Return soup puree and reserved solids to the saucepan. Add the chicken and cilantro to the saucepan and gently heat through. If you want a thinner soup, add more vegetable stock to your liking.
  7. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with cilantro and shredded carrots. Serve immediately.

Original Recipe: Page 103 – Book: Soup Bowl – An inspiring collection of soups, broths and chowders.

What I changed from original recipe:

  • replaced butter with olive oil
  • used more curry powder
  • used more lemon juice
  • replaced chicken stock with vegetable stock
  • omitted rice
  • added garlic clove
  • added ginger

Soup Mistress Rating for Curry Chicken Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (3.5/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5) 

Caesar Salad Soup a Great Alternative For Cold Weather

Caesar Salad Soup

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The completed caesar salad soup meat eaters version (with chicken)

I love to prepare and eat salads in the summertime, but hardly ever do so in the winter. During the winter months in Vancouver, it seems as though I am always cold and wanting hot foods.

The other day, I discovered a very interesting soup recipe on Martha Stewart’s website called Lettuce and Pea Soup.

I thought the soup would be a great way to get some romaine lettuce in on a chilly rainy day! I decided to take the idea and adjust the soup to one of my summertime favorite salads. And Chicken Caesar Salad Soup it is!

The verdict? Well, this soup is definitely interesting and may be hard to visualize as a soup at first, but surprisingly it was pretty good!

This soup is:

  • vegetarian (if you exclude the chicken from recipe or use a soy-based alternative)
  • gluten-free

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups head romaine lettuce, chopped (approx 1 head)
  • 3 cups snap peas, chopped (with shells on)
  • dash ground pepper
  • 5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated (keeping ¼ for garnish)
  • ¼ teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1 chicken breast, thinly sliced or cut in small chunks

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add lettuce and snap peas, stir until lettuce is wilted, about 3 minutes. Season with dash of pepper.
  3. Stir in vegetable broth, bring soup to boil. Reduce heat, simmer until bright green, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Puree the soup with lemon juice, lemon zest, ½ cup parmesan, and anchovy paste in a blender or food processor. Puree in batches if you need to.
  5. Return soup to pan, gently heat through. If you want a thinner soup, add vegetable stock to your liking.
  6. In a separate pan, fry up chicken pieces on medium to high heat.
  7. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with chicken and parmesan. Serve immediately.

The lettuce and pea soup recipe that gave me the idea for this soup: http://www.marthastewart.com/316114/lettuce-and-pea-soup-with-croutons

What I changed from original recipe:

  • replaced butter with olive oil
  • replaced chicken stock with vegetable stock
  • replaced frozen peas with fresh snap peas
  • added parmesan
  • added lemon juice and lemon zest
  • added garlic
  • added anchovy paste
  • omitted croutons, but would maybe try gluten-free croutons in future!

Soup Mistress Rating for Caesar Salad Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4/5)