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from "Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread Cookbook" by Crescent Dragonwagon

Texas, Arkansas's due-South neighbor, has made Tex-Mex one of our state's most popular foreign, or foreign-influenced, cuisines. This outstanding, hearty, chowderlike soup is full of that cooking idiom's bursting flavors. It was inspired by the taste of chicken and green chili enchiladas (concomitant with the wish that, just for once, I could indulge in Mexican food without feeling stuffed to the gills and starched-out immediately after). This very popular full-meal soup fits the bill. It's medium-spicy; turn the heat up or down according to taste. Serve the soup proudly in some pretty, peasanty bowls, with a skillet of corn bread or your favorite Spanish rice recipe.

Serves 4 to 6 as an Entrée, with rice or bread and a salad
 Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread Cookbook

6 cups any well-flavored chicken stock
3 fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil, such as corn or peanut
1 large onion, diced
2 to 3 fresh green chilies, to taste, stems and seeds removed, diced (faintly sweet poblano chilies, which are greenish-black triangular peppers, intriguingly sweet-hot, are great here)
1/2 to 1 whole fresh jalapeño pepper, stem and seeds removed, diced
2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds
2 teaspoons good Mexican chili powder
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (half-and-half if you're feeling indulgent; low-fat if you're feeling prudent)
12 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup Crème Fraîche
1 1/4 to 2 cups diced, boned and skinned cooked chicken
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Tabasco or similar hot sauce (optional)
Finely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley and crushed tortilla chips, made, preferably, from both blue and yellow cornmeal, for garnish

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1. In a large soup pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the tomatoes, turn down the heat to low and let simmer, covered, while you continue.
2. In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil together. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the chilies (be prepared to cough a bit as the spicy odors permeate the air), and after they have softened slightly, another 2 to 3 minutes, the cumin and chili powder. Stir, then sprinkle in the flour, blending it in with a spoon. Gradually add the milk or half-and-half, stirring to smooth. Let cook a few moments until thickened and free of all the raw flour taste.
3. Ladle 1 cup or so of the stock mixture into the thickened milk mixture and stir to thin it a little. Pour the entire contents of the skillet into the soup pot and let cook at a bare simmer over very, very low heat, stirring often, about 15 minutes.
4. Very slowly stir in the grated Cheddar and crème fraîche. Cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the chicken and chopped cilantro. Taste and season with the salt and pepper. If it's not spicy enough for you, make the soup hotter with a judicious application of Tabasco. Serve hot immediately, garnished with the additional cilantro and crushed tortilla chips. (I like to make a stripe of blue corn chip crumbles flanked by a stripe of yellow. The rest of the chips go in a bowl to the table, along with a bowl of guacamole, natch.)

Buy The Ingredients
Product nutrition and information
 Quantity Ingredients Est.Price
  Imagine Organic Low Sodium Chicken Broth - $3.59/ea
 32fl oz
  Beefsteak Tomatoes, Large - $2.99/lb
  White Onion, Large - $1.99/lb
  Poblano Pepper - $4.99/lb
  Jalapeño Pepper - $0.25/ea
 approx. 1oz
  Horizon Organic Whole Milk, Carton - $5.49/ea
 1/2 gallon
  Organic Valley Shredded Cheddar Cheese - $5.99/ea
  Vermont Creamery Crème Fraîche - $4.99/ea
  FreshDirect Rotisserie Chicken (Raised w/o Antibiotics) - $9.99/ea
 Serves 2-3
  Cilantro - $0.99/ea
 approx. 4oz
Optional Ingredients
  Cholula Hot Sauce, Original - $4.29/ea
 5fl oz
  Garden of Eatin' Mini Corns Tortilla Chips - $3.99/ea
You May Already Have
  Breakstone's All-Natural Unsalted Butter - $3.99/ea
 2ct, 4oz ea
  Planters Peanut Oil - $5.99/ea
 24fl oz
  Spice Supreme Ground Cumin - $1.29/ea
  Spice Supreme Chili Powder - $1.29/ea
  Gold Medal All Purpose Enriched Bleached Pre-Sifted Flour - $2.09/ea
  La Baleine Fine Sea Salt - $4.69/ea
  Just FreshDirect Tellicherry Peppercorns (Refill) - $4.99/ea
Estimated Total:  
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