During summer, dinner could be as casual and carefree as a backyard picnic or barbecue. But the start of the school year means a return to at least a slightly more formal sit-down dinner most weeknights.
If this shifting of gears is catching you by surprise, consider reaching for some “cheating ingredients” to help you get dinner on the table without a hitch. This delicious chowder recipe makes liberal use of two of my favorite cheating ingredients — store-bought rotisserie chicken and salsa.
Salsa is another ingredient I like to keep handy at all times. It's an all-purpose condiment that has replaced ketchup in many households, and there's a salsa these days for every taste: fresh or jarred, mild, medium or hot. Use the salsa of your choice to set the spiciness of this soup.
Fresh corn is not a cheating ingredient. On the contrary, it is one of late summer's great stars, built into this recipe not only because it's good but also because the starch in the corn helps thicken the broth.
After you have cut all of the kernels off the cob, you should scrape the cob itself with the dull side of a knife. The milky liquid that results is another soup thickener (as are the potatoes in the recipe).
Southwestern Corn and Chicken Chowder With Tortilla Crisps
Makes four servings Start to finish: 1 hour (30 minutes active)
Three 6-inch corn tortillas
2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
½ pound red bliss or Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups fresh corn kernels (or thawed frozen)
4 cups chicken broth
3 cups chopped or shredded rotisserie chicken
1 cup purchased salsa
1 to 2 tablespoons lime juice
Chopped fresh cilantro or basil, to garnish (optional)
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the corn tortillas on a baking sheet, then mist them with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, combine teaspoon of the cumin, the chili powder and a pinch of salt. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the tortillas. Using a pizza cutter, cut the tortillas into thin strips. Bake them on the middle shelf of the oven until they are golden and crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a large saucepan over medium, heat the vegetable oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon cumin and cook, stirring, for another minute.
Add the potatoes, corn and chicken broth, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potato is tender. Transfer 1 cup of the mixture (mostly solids) to a blender and carefully blend until smooth. Return the mixture to the saucepan, add the chicken and salsa and cook until just heated through. Add salt and lime juice, to taste, and water, if necessary, to achieve the desired consistency.
Divide between four serving bowls and garnish each portion with some of the tortilla strips and cilantro, if desired.
Nutrition information per serving: 400 calories; 110 calories from fat (28 percent of total calories); 12 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 85 mg cholesterol; 39 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 10 g sugar; 34 g protein; 1,140 mg sodium.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.