This isn’t quite a non-recipe, in the sense that you can pretty much substitute anything you want in any quantity and it’ll still turn out basically the same.
But it is a highly negotiable one, with a lot of options in the meat vs vegan, bean, and chile departments.
Chupacabra might be a bit hard to find in your local grocer’s meat department, since one has never actually been caught, at least as far as the USDA and FDA know. But I think the combination of shredded chicken with two cups of Dynamite chile peppers tastes about the same.
(Truth in lending here: I have no idea what a Dynamite chile pepper is. That’s all they had left at this little mom and pop farmer’s market I just found. Looks like an Anaheim, but I’m assuming from the name it’s a wee bit hotter. Yeah, I know … I was born at night, but not last night … didn’t just fall off the tuna truck, ya know.)
The basic recipe goes like this: shredded chicken plus beans plus a veggie combo of onions and chiles with or without tomatoes plus broth equals soup.
- Rotisserie chicken works great here, assuming you can’t round up a chupacabra.
- Made the last batch with half boiled chicken, half ground Jennie-O turkey. Mixing in a little ground meat was something I tried when I was short on pork loin and I wanted to make a double batch of green chile stew, and I think it adds a little depth to the dish. Same idea works here.
- If you boil the chicken, then you’ll already have a pot of brothy-water to make the chicken broth later. I’ve been hooked on Better Than Bouillon chicken base lately, for it’s convenience, price, and most importantly taste. Bon Appetit loved it, and it’s ridiculously cheap at the base commissary — about nine quarts of chicken broth for around three bucks, with no cans or cartons taking up space.
- If you’re going to add ground turkey or chicken, then brown the meat first and then cook the veggies in the same pot, so that the meat juices work into the onions and peppers.
- Chiles: all I can say is, play around with them. It’s always easier to start mild and work your way up. Kinda like unringing a bell, if you over-do the peppers, there’s only so much diluting you can do later. This last batch, I used about two cups of Dynamites. I loved it, but it was too hot for M., and she had to cut the soup with sour cream. (Which is so odd, because she nearly always out-hots me under the table.)
Chicken: One rotisserie chicken, or a smallish over-roasted bird, or a pound or so of grilled chicken (shredded), or a pound or so of boiled chicken (again, then shredded) with maybe a pound of ground turkey, browned.
Olive oil as needed
Two small-to-medium onions, yellow or sweet (I like sweet mixed with chiles, but that’s just me), medium to fine dice
3-4 garlic cloves, finely diced or minced
½ to 2 cups chile peppers (depending on your own personal taste and constitution), roasted, peeled, and diced (or, about 14-15 ounces of canned Hatch chiles)
2 cans black beans or 1 can black, 1 can pinto, rinsed
1 Tbs quality chile powder (Savory Spices is a great place to start, or grind your own.)
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp to 1 Tbs Mexican oregano
3 cups chicken broth plus more water if needed
1-2 cups of diced tomatoes or 14-28 ounces of canned tomatoes
1 cup corn
Strips of fresh tortillas
If you’re using ground turkey or chicken, brown it in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. If you want, spice the meat with a little chile powder and cumin. Remove and set aside, then sauté the onions in the same pot, using the remaining fat from the meat plus as much olive oil as you need to keep the onions for sticking. Go with about medium heat for 6-7 minutes, and then add the garlic and chiles. Stir gently but frequently. If you have burnt bits on the bottom of your pot, lightly deglaze with a few Tbs of chicken broth (or a splash of wine or beer, if you happen to have some open).
Add the beans and gently stir. Add the spices and gently stir. Add the tomatoes and corn and gently stir (optional items). Then add your broth, and gently stir again before bringing the pot to a boil. Immediately turn it back down to a simmer, giving it 15-20 minutes. Then add your chicken (or chupacabra, if you found one) back to the pot.
Update: I love this technique of thickening the soup with a corn starch slurry at Edible Mosaic.
The key to this soup is managing your chiles. Too many of a too hot variety and you have jet fuel. Too few of a too mild, and you have nursing home cafeteria soup.