Christmas Dinner Tradition

I have never been that big of a Christmas fan, I’ll admit. I am more of an enthusiastic Thanksgiving celebrator (try to imagine why!!). Sometimes I think during christmas we tend to focus on what stuff we get from other people, and stress out too much about what we have to buy for them. Thats why I call it the festival of consumption. I think Christmas should be about family and recognizing that you have the  gift of living every day! Call me corny, but its true. Christmas is so much better if you think of it this way.

Anyways, every year my parents, my sister and I sit down to a meal of tortilla soup after coming back from our town’s Christmas pageant, followed by an evening in front of the fire eating fudge and watching its a wonderful life. Now THERE is a movie that embodies the true spirit of Christmas.

Why tortilla soup? Well its definitely not your typical Christmas ham, but my family and I have been eating it every Christmas eve for as long as I can remember and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. The soup takes a while to make, but it is so worth it, and after a cold night it really warms the soul (not to mention my Momma is an excellent cook).

Nevertheless this soup is delicious any time of the year. It is also really fun to eat because you can top it with a bunch of different fixings, and you get to scoop it all up with crispy, home made tortilla chips (which we always seem to polish off before the soup even hits the table). Every time I taste it, I remember how important my family is to me. I suppose that is one of the great things about food: that really, it can be so much more than food.

Merry Chowing!!

Tortilla Soup (adapted from an Alice Waters Recipe) :

For the tortilla chips:

4 corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch strips

1/2 cup canola oil

For the soup:

1-1/2 quarts chicken broth

1 chicken breast (with skin and bones)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Anaheim green pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced (or 3 small canned whole tomatoes, diced with juice included)

1 dried chipotle chili, seeded

Sea salt to taste

In a small heavy-bottomed pan fry the corn tortilla strips in canola oil over medium-high heat. Fry the tortilla strips in small batches until golden brown and crispy. Be careful not to burn the tortilla. Drain on paper towels and season with sea salt.

In a medium pot, heat the chicken broth to a simmer, add the chicken breast and cook at a bare simmer until the chicken is done, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, transfer the chicken breast to a plate and let it cool. Remove and discard the skin and bones and shred the breast meat. I like my tortilla soup a little chunky so shred the meat to your preference.

In a large heavy pot, cook the Anaheim green pepper, onion, and garlic in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Pour in the hot chicken broth then add the tomatoes and dried chipotle chile. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Cut up chicken into bite size pieces and add to soup. Cook for 5 more minutes. Let cool and serve with whatever garnishes you choose!

Garnishes I like: Avocado slices, Fresh lime juice, Sour Cream, Fresh Cilantro, Chopped Onion, Cheddar Jack Cheese and Fresh Radishes

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