Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What Picky Eaters? Or, How My Children Ate Six Different Vegetables In One Meal

The rainy season has started with a vengeance here in Central Florida and this means I am making lots of soup. Because when it's pouring, grey and chilly I need lots of soup. LOTS of soup.

Here's a recipe for one of our recent favorites. I made a giant batch of it in my Vita-Mix yesterday and was thrilled to announce to the boys that they were eating SIX different kinds of vegetables for lunch. YUM! This recipe can be tweaked to make it Paleo/21 Day Sugar Detox/Primal/Gluten-free/Dairy-free/What-have-you. AS an extra perk, you're getting almost-raw veg! The essential thing is a really good blender. Everything else is negotiable! I'm going to give you instructions specifically for a Vita Mix blender, but it's pretty much the same for any other type, I imagine. This recipe is based on an instructional demonstration at the Vita Mix kiosk in Costco. Totally not kidding.

Healthy Chicken Tortilla Soup
(feeds about 6-8 adults for lunch, or 2 little boys for about a week)

1 carrot
1 stalk of celery
1/4 med head of cabbage (green, purple or savoy. the purple cabbage turns the whole soup a lovely pinkish color with bits of purple "confetti". or use spinach, kale, green leafy of your choice)
1/4-1/2 med onion
1 or 2 cloves garlic
1/4 sweet pepper
1/2 yellow or green squash
1 tsp cajun spice mix (or you can just sprinkle in a mixture of chili pwd and cumin)
1 large tomato, cut into wedges
3-4 cups hot broth, or water and bullion cubes (I use chicken stock, because I usually have it on hand, but any veg or bone broth will work fine. I've also used plain hot water in a pinch)
2 oz sharp cheddar cheese
1/2- 1 avocado  (I usually chunk in a whole one because we love it and I'm not avoiding natural fats)
1/2c frozen corn
1/2 can black beans
cooked chicken breast
taco chips OR plantain chips
shredded cheese

Ok. The above list contains all the possibilities I've tried over the weeks that I've been developing the recipe. I add and cut out and substitute to please my palate, diet and available resources. Feel free to do the same! This recipe tolerates tweaking quite well.

1) Put carrot, celery, green leafies, onion, garlic, squash and any other veggies you want to experiment with into the Vita Mix. With the dial set to 3 (which is med-low-ish), pulse chop till you've got a nice even slaw-like texture. Or you can go for a smaller dice, too, if you prefer a soup with less texture. Basically, mash that puppy up how you like it.

2) Turn the dial down to lowest setting and toss in spices and tomato wedges.

3) Once the tomato is fully blended, and with the blender still going, pour slowly in (through that nifty little hole in the Vita Mix lid) the hot water or broth. Slooooowly.

4) Sloooowly turn up the speed to #7 (med-high). Toss the avocado and the cheddar in that nifty little hole. Now you just let it spin a bit of a while. The avocado and/or the cheese are going to make your soup get all nice and creamy. You can use either one or both (both is yummiest). Once you see the soup get nice and thick with some froth on the top, turn the dial back down to lowest setting.

5) Now you're going to add the beans and corn and possibly the chips. There is a raging debate in our house about whether the chips ought to be added at this point, or crushed in the bottom of the bowl with the soup ladled over top of them. Judah prefers the soggy-ish texture of blended up chips (*gag*) and I have to admit that the original recipe called for this. I, on the other hand, prefer my chips crisp and crunchy. So. You choose.

6) Up to this point you've had a lovely and dishwashing-friendly one-dish meal thing going on, but now you have to pour it all into a pot and warm it back up. The original recipe claims that you can serve it straight out of the blender, but I have never had success with that. I think probably because I added in the frozen corn and a bunch of extra veggies. Anyhoo. It's just as well, because while your soup is re-heating on the stove-top, you're going to chop that chicken breast into about four pieces, toss it in the Vita Mix and give it a whirl at the lowest setting. You should end up with a nice taco-grade shredded chicken. Scrape it out into the pot and get it all nice and hot.

7) Ladle over crushed chips (or not) and sprinkle with cheese (or not).


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