My assistant, Emily Bell, created this soup while visiting her son and daughter-in-law and their two young children who live in the mountains of Colorado. Since both parents work on the ski slopes, this comforting soup was a big hit after long days outdoors. It is based around a flavorful tomato and chicken stock to which shredded chicken, black beans, and corn are added. A garnish of toasted pepitas and cilantro blended in a food processor (like a pesto but without any oil) tops each serving.
Market note: You can use a good quality rotisserie chicken from your local supermarket. A 2 to 2 1/2 pound chicken will yield 4 cups white and dark meat. Pull meat off bones and shred or cut into thin strips.
Cooking tip: If using frozen corn, defrost and pat it dry, then sauté the kernels in 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir often until the corn is lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. This will bring out the sweetness of the corn.
Recipe excerpted from Soup Nights: Satisfying Soups and Sides for Delicious Meals All Year by Betty Rosbottom, Rizzoli New York, 2016. Click here to purchase your own copy.
In a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil until hot. Add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic and sauté until vegetables are slightly softened, about 4 minutes.
Add the oregano, cumin, and smoked paprika and stir 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, tomatoes with their juices, and chilies and their liquid. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes.
Add the chicken, black beans, and corn and simmer 5 minutes more. Season the soup with salt and pepper. (The soup can be prepared two days ahead. Cook to this stage; then cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat, stirring often, over medium heat.)
Place pepitas and cilantro in a food processor, and pulse until finely minced, scraping the bowl as needed.
Ladle soup into bowls and garnish each serving with a generous spoonful of the pepita mixture.