Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tequila: Not Just For Cocktails Anymore!

Rachael Ray gets a lot of flack from chefs and food lovers the world over. I don't have a problem with her. She never claimed to be anything more than a personality and a homecook. And she does a pretty decent job at both of those vocations. I do wonder, however, how much weight a person would gain if they ate daily what Rachel stirs together in her Rachel Ray Cookware (Come on, be honest, you'd sell your soul to the Kitchen Gods too if it meant living a life interviewing President Clinton, judging burger contests, and vacationing in Italy. Although I'd renege every lucrative deal if it meant playing nicey-nice with Gwyneth "Eat some f-ing carbs" Paltrow.).

That being said, this soup is inspired by a tequila barbecue chicken dish Rachael prepared on one of her fifteen different talk and cooking shows currently airing via cable and network TV and reruns. Giving credit where credit is due, I present to you a pretty good soup sort of a la Rachael. This serves four generously, especially if you add lots of goodies like sour cream and cheese and avocados.

Note: as a self-diagnosed Penzey's junkie, I used their blends in this soup but have included the ingredients in each combo so that you can eyeball your own spice mix.

Chicken Margarita Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped
1/2 Anaheim pepper, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, diced
4 to 5 cups of water or chicken broth
1 tablespoon Penzey's Southwest Seasoning*
1 pound whole skinless boneless chicken breasts
Juice from 1 lime and 1/2 orange
1/4 cup agave tequila
1 tablespoon Penzey's Chili Con Carne Seasoning**
1 cup black or turtle beans plus 1/2 cup cooking liquid
2 cups canned tomatoes in juice
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Add olive oil to large high-sided saucepan on medium high heat. Saute onion and peppers until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds. Add water and bring to simmer; stir in Southwest Seasoning. Gently slide chicken into pan and poach until chicken reaches internal temperature of 155 to 160 degrees, about 15 minutes; turning chicken over at the halfway point of about 8 minutes.

Remove chicken to cool. Bring soup to gentle boil; add lime, orange, tequila, and Chili Con Carne seasoning; reduce by half. Puree beans in their cooking liquid and add to soup. Stir in tomatoes and brown sugar; salt and pepper to taste.

Shred cooled chicken and add back to soup.

Serve with additional beans, lime wedges, and baked tortilla strips.

* salt, sweet ancho pepper, onion, garlic, Mexican oregano, Tellicherry black pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin, sweet paprika, chipotle pepper and cilantro.

** Ancho chili pepper, tomato powder, ground cumin, Mexican oregano, garlic, coriander, minced onions, red and green bell peppers, Tellicherry black pepper, allspice, cilantro and cloves.

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