This is a from scratch soup. Of course, you can speed things up by using commercially made chicken stock if you are pressed for time, but the soup is more satisfying when you make the stock yourself.
Actually, there are several short cuts you could take to make this soup, and each of you will figure out those that work best for you. I have given you the long version, because, after all, this site is all about “fresh cooking”, using as few pre-made ingredients as possible. The original recipe is from Gourmet magazine, December 2008. I have made a few changes, but not many. The recipe is great as written.
This will make 8 – 12 servings, depending on appetites. Cool completely and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze the leftovers so you have a time saver when your schedule gets out of control.
For the stock
1 whole chicken (about 1/1/2 kilos)
3 carrots, roughly chopped
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 whole head garlic, cut in half crosswise
3 1/2 litres of water
1 small bunch cilantro stems (25 – 30 stems)
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Put all ingredients in a large stock pot, and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 3 hours. Occasionally skim off any foam that forms on top of the broth and discard.
Remove chicken from broth, set aside and allow to cool. Strain broth through a fine mesh sieve into large bowl. Discard solids and wash pot and return broth to pot.
Make the Soup
3 whole allspice berries
1 whole clove
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
8 black peppercorns
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 – 3 Tablespoons chipotles in adobo (depending on your preference for spicy heat)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown rice, not cooked
1 lb sweet potato or camote, cut into spoon size pieces
1 19 oz can canellni beans, drained and rinsed
15 fresh corn tortillas
5 Tablespoons canola oil
Toast the allspice, clove, cumin, peppercorns in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, shaking pan to prevent burning, . About 2 minutes.
Transfer toasted spices to blender and add onion, carrots, garlic, chipotles, salt and 1 cup of the chicken stock. Puree until smooth and spices are ground. About 3 minutes. If mixture seems too thick to properly puree, add a bit more chicken stock. (Be careful if chicken stock is still hot).
Add puree to stock in pot, along with brown rice. Bring to low boil over medium heat. Simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and continue to simmer until sweet potatoes and rice are tender – about 15 minutes more.
While soup is simmering, remove meat from chicken and cut or shred into bite-size pieces. Discard bones.
Add chicken and beans to simmering soup. Remove from heat once chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375F, stack tortillas and cut into 1/4 inch strips. Toss strips with oil, place on 2 baking sheets, season with salt and bake, stirring frequently until crisp and golden. About 25 minutes.
2 ripe avocados, cubed
2 or 3 limes, cut into wedges
3 medium tomatoes, cut into small dice
Spoon soup into bowls, top with avocados, tomatoes and tortilla strips. Serve sour cream and lime wedges alongside.