While preparing for Thanksgiving is everyone’s focus, we still have to eat in the mean time. Here’s a recipe we’ve enjoyed a lot lately – chicken tomatillo soup. With mild chili pepper and spices to warm you up, you will eat healthy as we head into the busy holiday season.
Use Leftover Chicken or Turkey
Enjoying this hearty chicken tomatillo soup is just a short time away if you have leftover roast chicken. No leftover chicken? Roasting one is easy. Follow these directions for basic bone-in roast chicken breast.
One large chicken breast, about 1 1/4 pounds, is enough for the soup. You can roast it while you are getting the soup ready. When the chicken is done, shred enough meat for the soup.
Use Turkey After Thanksgiving
Post-Thanksgiving, this would be great with leftover turkey and turkey broth. So keep this recipe in mind for Thanksgiving leftovers.
Start with Pantry Staples
With extra roast chicken from the night before, homemade chicken broth in the freezer, plus pantry staples of onions, garlic, spices, and pinto beans, this soup comes together easily.
What are Tomatillos?
Tomatillos are a small, round fruit that we think of like a vegetable. Tomatillos look like little green tomatoes with a papery husk. Remove the papery husk and wash the sticky fruit before using.
When ripe, tomatillos can be red, yellow or even purple but they are most often used when they are unripe or green. They have a slightly tart flavor and are good in many dishes from soups to salsas and sauces. Choose firm fruit that is a deep green color when buying. Look for them in the produce department of stores tha carry Mexican ingredients.
Chili Peppers and Heat-Some Like it Hot
As I am a heat wimp, I used mild Anaheim chilies for this soup. You could also use mild Poblano chilies. If you like heat, you can use a combination of mild and hot chilies. For more heat, add a little jalpeno or serrano pepper.
To understand more about heat and chilies, look them up on the Scoville chart. This A-Z chart list chilies and their Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) ranking. The higher the number, the hotter the chili. Bell peppers are zero on the scale. Anaheim and Poblano chilies come in around 2000. The hottest out there today? The searingly hot Carolina Reaper at over 2,000,000 SHU’s. Not on your life.
The ingredient in peppers that brings tears to your eyes and fire to your tongue is capsaicin. The more capsaicin, the hotter the chili. More than just a fiery ingredient, Capsaicin is a powerful anti-inflammatory that has many documented health benefits.
Herbs, Spices and Beans
To add Mexican flavor I used ground cumin and coriander and pure ancho chili pepper. Cumin and coriander have a lemony flavor and the ancho chili pepper adds mild heat and richness.
For more protein, fiber and “oomph” (that’s a word, right?) I added pinto beans. To keep this recipe quick, I used canned, organic pintos in a BPA-free can (Eden Foods).
Garnishes Complete the Soup
For me, this soup would not be complete without the fresh garden flavor of chopped cilantro. If you are a cilantro hater, use fresh chopped flat leaf parsley for a nice fresh finish.
Other garnish options include a little cheese and diced, buttery avocado. For cheese, try grated Jack or crumbly Mexican Cotija. While Cotija night be more traditional, it is very salty, so I go with a little buttery Jack. For dairy-free, just skip it.
Add a big salad and you will have a terrific lunch or dinner ready for yourself and your family. Make it ahead when you have time. It will hold for 3 days in the fridge.
I just discovered a shortcut to this recipe that works great! I wanted to make this soup and had no tomatillos, but I had a batch of tomatillo sauce in the freezer. Instead of using fresh tomatillos and chopping them, I substituted 12 ounces of the sauce. It worked great and I’ll be making it again this week with leftover roast chicken.
Chicken Tomatillo Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/2 cup finely chopped mild fresh green chili such as an Anaheim
- 1 cup chopped tomatillos about 6 ounces
- 3-4 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
- 3 cups chicken or turkey broth preferably homemade
- 8 ounces of shredded roast chicken about 1 1/4 cups, or turkey
- 1 can pinto beans 15 ounces, rinsed and drained
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2-3 teaspoons chopped cilantro or parsley
- 3-4 ounces grated Jack cheese optional
- 1/2 avocado quartered and diced
- Heat olive oil in a 3 1/2 – 4 quart pot over medium low heat. Add onion, celery and chili pepper. Cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add tomatillos and cook another few minute until soft. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add cumin, coriander and ancho chili pepper and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes to allow flavors to bloom.
- Add chicken broth, chicken and beans. Bring soup to a simmer and heat through. When hot serve with cilantro, cheese and avocado if desired.