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It's Friday So It Must Be Soup! Feb 3 Means Chili Chicken Soup

It is cold out and if I could, I would eat chili and stew and big hunks of warm bread every single day. I had some okay chili last night at the pub and it made me crave chili but I needed to make a soup, I didn't have any beef or pork to grind up so I had to put my thinking cap on.

What i DID have was a few big chicken thighs, some dried ancho chilis, a couple of odds and ends in the crisper and some brand new Penzy's mexican oregano and another bag of chili powder.
I googled, I searched on tastespotting and and couldn't find exactly what I wanted so I just started assembling ingredients in the kitchen.

In a perfect world, I would have made more of a chili verde but I don't have mild green chilis or tomatillos but I can do that another day.

Chicken Chili Soup

1  clove garlic, chopped
1/2 onion , chopped
2 small dried ancho chilis
olive oil
1/2 carrot
1/2 zucchini
900 ml chicken stock
1 bottle corona or other beer
2 tbls cumin
2 tbls chili powder
pinch salt and grind of pepper to taste
3 skinless chicken thighs on the bone
1 can chickpeas
1 can black beans
1 handful of cilantro stalks, tied in a bunch
1/2 can of plum tomatoes (1/2 of a 28 oz can) , pureed or crushed through their fingers
handful of fresh, chopped cilantro
juice of 1 lime or more to tastes
sour cream
chopped tomato

To rehydrate the dried chilis, heat a pan to med high and fry the chilis a minute on each side in the dry pan. Put them in a bowl and cover with boiling water and let them sit for 5 to 10 minutes to soften. Remove them from the water, remove and discard the stem and seeds and slice the chilis into thin strips and set aside. You could also puree them with a bit of the chicken stock if you don't want actual strips of the chilis in your soup.

Heat a glug of olive oil in a soup pot and saute the onion and garlic until softened and just starting to colour. Add the dry spices and saute for another minute until you can really smell them and then add the chicken stock, the chopped carrot and zucchini, the canned beans, the cilantro stalks, the beer, the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the skinless thighs on the bone and let them cook in the soup for about half an hour. You can also just use any old chopped up chicken meat you want. If you hate thighs, use breast meat, if you don't want to deal with removing meat from the bones, use boneless and skinless and just add chopped raw chicken to the soup. I like to use meat on the bone because the bones give the soup a bit more flavour.

After about half an hour, i remove the chicken and set it aside to cool enough to handle and then i remove all the meat, shred it and put it back in the pot. Remove the bundle of cilantro stalks as well discard the bones and the stalks.
 Let the soup simmer for at least another ten or fifteen minutes and up to another hour. It's like a thin chili so you can't really overcook it but if you let it simmer for a long time, you might have to add some water or stock to thin it back out a bit.

Just before serving, squeeze in the lime juice and add the fresh cilantro and ladle into bowls.

You can serve more fresh cilantro, more lime, something spicy like salsa or jalepenos, chopped tomato and some sour cream for people to add as they like. I tend to add my heat elements at the table because I am the only one who enjoys a lot of heat and if I want the boys to eat my food, I have to defer to their wimpy palettes. I made some cheese quesadillas to serve with the soup to make it feel like a complete meal since we had this soup for supper but it's pretty hearty all on it's own.

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