Food & Drink

Hearty soup just right for chilly nights

Now that autumn has arrived with cooler days and chilly nights, my thoughts turn to comfort food. It's time to make a pot of soup that will warm both body and spirit. I am not talking about a light, appetizer type of soup. Nope, I want a hearty soup that needs only a hunk of crusty bread for a meal that makes me happy.

Last week Damian Lehman, executive chef of the Wichita Country Club, taught a class on soups at my cooking school. Although he made several kinds, his chicken tortilla soup was a class favorite. Not only is it delicious, but it is also very easy to make. Everything goes in the pot; it simmers for a while, then it is ready to serve.

With the recipe dressed up with a spoonful of guacamole, a dab of sour cream or a sprinkling of shredded cheese, you have a real bowl of soup.

Here's the recipe, followed by a question:

Chef Lehman's Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 cup diced onions

1 cup frozen or fresh corn kernels

1 cup diced tomatoes

1 cup diced green peppers

1 cup diced red peppers

1 jalapeno, chopped fine

1/4cup chopped cilantro

1 oz. chopped garlic

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons dried oregano leaves

4 cups diced, cooked chicken

4 oz. chicken base

3 quarts water

8 oz. tortilla chips

Optional garnishes: Guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese

Place all ingredients except tortilla chips in a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Simmer 35 minutes.

Stir in tortilla chips and continue to simmer for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle into bowls and garnish as desired.

Makes about 16 servings. (Recipe can be halved.)

Note: Lehman uses chicken base in the soup and 3 quarts of water. Chicken base, a paste-like product sold in jars, may be found in grocery stores and some specialty food stores. However, chicken broth may be used instead with equally good results.

The Wichita Eagle—10/28/09

In soup recipes, I notice some call for chicken broth and some call for chicken stock. Broth is easy to find in the supermarket but stock is not always available. And what is the difference, anyway?

Broths and stocks are very similar. In fact, the techniques for both are identical. Chicken broth is made by simmering chicken in water with aromatic vegetables such as onion, celery and carrots and perhaps other spices and herbs until the chicken is very tender. The liquid is strained, and that is broth.

Stock is made the same way except bones are used instead of meat and are simmered in water with aromatic vegetables and other seasonings. The liquid is strained, and that is stock.

Broth has more flavor because poultry or meat is used to make it. Broth is used in soups, sauces or served as broth with added ingredients.

The less-flavorful stock is never served by itself but is used as an ingredient in soups, sauces and other preparations.