Enchilada Soup

One of my very favorite foods are enchiladas.  They became a menu staple when I lived in an apartment in college.  My food budget was $50/month.  I would buy ground beef on sale for $.99/pound (a price I haven’t seen since my college days!), use coupons to get the sauce for a quarter a can and tortillas for $.50 at the Hostess bakery outlet.  For less than $2, I could get 5-6 meals.  And it was a meal I LOVED.  So that made the price even better.

So when I came across a recipe for enchilada soup?  Oh, how my face smiled! This soup is excellent.  Its easy to prepare, adaptable and freezes well. I have added some notes below the recipe, so be sure to keep reading past it.

Enchilada Soup
Serves 6-8

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 quart chicken broth
1 cup masa harina
3 cups water, divided
1 cup enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Over medium heat in a large pot, cook chicken breasts in oil until browned.  Set aside to cool.  Add onions and garlic and cook until clear and fragrant.  Add chicken broth, carefully scraping up any fond on the bottom of the pan.

In a bowl, whisk together masa harina and 2 cups of water.   Pour into the large pot along with the remaining water, enchilada sauce, seasonings and cheese.  Shred chicken and return to the soup pot.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low, cooking 40-50 minutes until thickened.

A few notes
While it calls for chicken, I have also used ground beef in it.  I cook it with the onions & garlic and then proceed as directed.  If I use ground beef, I will sometimes sub beef broth for the chicken.

Sometimes I pull out shredded chicken from my freezer and use that in place of the chicken here.  It works well and saves me time.

This freezes very nicely.  I don’t like cheese and only add it to the top of soup bowls when I serve it to my family.  So I can’t speak to how it would freeze IN the soup (as directed).  If I were going to freeze the soup with cheese, I would probably add a small bag of cheese inside the larger bag of soup and add it when I reheat.

If you need to let it cook longer, add extra water or broth to keep it from getting too thick.

This also cooks well in the crock-pot.  I cook it 4-6 hours on low or, if I need to let it cook all day, I do and just add extra broth.

Masa harina is a soft-ground corn flour that gives the soup both taste and serves to thicken it.  Maseca is the brand that I have found easiest to locate though I know Bob’s Red Mill makes it, too, in regular and gluten-free versions.  I find it near the flour in the baking aisle.  If you have a Hispanic grocery store, check there as well.  I had difficulty finding it sometimes in Hawaii, so I’d use regular flour or cornstarch to thicken the soup and cornmeal for flavor (which worked…but made it a bit gritty).

I like to serve it topped with tortilla chips and green onions.  SoldierBoy likes it with cheese and sour cream.  My sister likes to add black olives when she serves it.

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