Speedy Suppers: Chicken Soup with a Southwestern Twist

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Soup is filling, hearty and easy. Many of us are more likely to reach for a can opener and a condensed version when we're craving soup, but homemade soup is surprisingly fast to make. The best part is that one pot of soup can yield two meals for a family of four. After all, soup is one of those foods that always tastes better the next day.

I created this soup years ago after trying a great version at a Mexican restaurant in Bowling Green, Ohio. I ordered the "Zuppa Azteca" each time I stopped there during my drive north to visit friends in Michigan. Theirs is made with chicken roasted on the bone and homemade stock--incredibly delicious but not conducive to a quick weeknight supper.

Theirs had fewer tomatoes, no beans and white rice. I wanted to add more nutrition, so I added spinach, a green pepper and more tomatoes, and I use white meat chicken instead of dark. Beans and brown rice add fiber. This new soup is a good compromise of taste and time. (There's also a vegetarian version that I make these days. See below for more info on that!)

These first two recipes in what is becoming a series called "Speedy Suppers" have both been Mexican/Southwestern. I'll branch out for my next installment, I promise. I do know how to cook other cuisines!

Southwestern Chicken Soup

2 chicken breasts, chopped into bite-size pieces (about 8 ounces)
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped (optional; leave in seeds for more heat)
1 green pepper, chopped
4 c fresh spinach or about 4 ounces frozen spinach (this is an estimate; you can add more or less)
1 T cumin
1 T olive oil
1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes (preferably low-sodium)
1 avocado, chopped
1 quart chicken stock (preferably reduced-sodium)
1/4 c cilantro, torn
2 limes, juiced
1 14-ounce can pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed
2 c cooked brown rice

Makes 8 hearty cup-size servings. (Find the recipe here.) Each serving has 264 calories and 9.8 grams of fat, 6 grams of which are heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. It also has 8 grams of fiber--about a third of your daily requirement!

If you're not using cooked rice, start making rice before you begin the soup as brown rice can take up to 30 minutes to cook.

Heat oil in a large soup pot set over medium-high flame, and add garlic, onion and peppers. Cook until soft and starting to get some color, about 5 minutes. Lower heat to medium. Add chicken and cumin and cook another five minutes. Add chicken broth, beans and tomatoes. Raise heat to medium-high and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add lime juice, stirring well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Sodium from optional salt not included.)

To serve: place 1/2 c rice in bottom of each bowl. Sprinkle avocado and cilantro on top.

(For vegetarian version: Heat olive oil, add garlic, onion and peppers, cooking until fragrant. Add stock, tomatoes and beans, and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Add lime juice. Remove from heat and add avocado and cilantro.)

Serve with whole-wheat tortilla strips that have been baked until crisp. (Add 33 calories per serving; about 1/4 of an 8" tortilla.)

Other suggestions:
  • Add your favorite salsa instead of canned tomatoes.
  • Use 3 large fresh tomatoes when they're in season.
  • Top your soup with low-fat sour cream or 1 oz low-fat cheddar or pepper jack cheese instead of avocado.
  • Use ground turkey or lean ground beef instead of chicken.
  • Use kidney beans instead of pinto or black beans.
  • Serve with cornbread and leave out the rice.

    As many of you know, I don't eat meat, but I do cook meat from time to time--either for my boyfriend or when I'm hosting guests for dinner. I need suggestions, because otherwise this series might turn into "101 Ways to Eat Black Beans and Rice"! (Just kidding, but I do have plenty of beans and rice recipes.)

    Would you try this recipe? What type of recipes would you like to see in "Speedy Suppers"? Jen has been blogging about family eating, and we'd both like to know what types of fast, easy, and healthful meals you eat on a regular basis! If you've got a good recipe on SparkRecipes, copy the link into your comment. I could share your recipe in the next installment of Speedy Suppers!

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    LOSER05 5/18/2021
    thanks Report
    BWRETLIND 4/28/2021
    Thanks! Report
    SNUZYQ2 4/21/2021
    What a fabulous recipe and tips! Thank you! Report
    YMWONG22 4/17/2021
    Thank you Report
    VHAYES04 2/25/2021
    Ty Report
    will try this.. thanks Report
    Thanks Report
    thanks Report
    Thanks for the new ideas Report
    Sounds yummy! Report
    I will try this. I like the idea of adding avocado . Report
    I will try this recipe , its very close to one i already make, only I add the uncooked rice to the soup and cook it all together. Report
    This sounds like a great recipe! But I might be a little biased since I have one that I've been using for the last few years and it's virtually identical ;-) I don't use onions, since I don't care for them, but I do season with some onion powder. And since I'm a heat freak, I sometimes start by sauteeing the jalapeno and garlic in chili oil instead of olive. I love it and my husband claims to, but I can always tell when he's been eating it by the box of tissues next to his plate! Report
    This soup likes good; I wouldn't mind having a bowl right now. I all ready have the avocado. lol
    I would like to see soup recipes using tofu. Report
    delicious! I eat more fish than anything and recently decided to include more chicken in my diet but couldn't figure out how. This soup was really tasty. Report
    I make a similar version, but you have some ingredients included that I never thought of adding. Soup sounds good today! Thanks. Report
    I love any type of home made soup with all kind of different vegetables! Report
    I love soup. One of my winter stand bys is what I call canned soup (no recepie). I use all kinds of canned veggies starting with stewed tomatoes adding kidney beans, carrots, green beans, corn, peas etc. I usually add some sauteed stew meet, maybe some wine, season with some tobassco and what not, thicken with some corn starch and there you have it. Quick, easy and healthy. Report
    This sounds yummy think I am going to give it a try! Have you ever done a low fat version of gezpacho? Report
    I will be making this recipe and some of your others they sound great Report
    We are eating this for lunch today! Report
    My family loves anything that has a black bean in it....great recipe! Report
    Beans are great but watch the carbs. Report
    I love soups and at 8 in the morning that sounds soo good I wish it was time for lunch I'll have to try it out for sure!!! Report
    I make a low cal soup at least once a month and freeze in individual containers to thraw at night to take to work the next day. I try to keep the calories under 130 per serving, so, even though this particular soup sounds amazing I will not make it.

    In my freezer now is 9 servings so I will be making another batch this weekend. In there is Hot and Sour Soup (from the Company's Company Starters recipe book, but I add leftover chicken, tofu, and extra veggies); a Cabbage Vegetable I got at sparkrecipes; Turkey Vegetable(I made my own stock on a lazy Sunday afternoon) then threw in what ever veggies I had in my refridgerator. I control portion size, sodium content, kick up the spices. Just love it ! Soup fills me up and I look forward to my next low cal discovery, so I you have any recipes send them my way please !
    I started making soups about 2 years ago. I found they were so easy to do and taste so good. I very rarely buy concentrated soups. And you get to control what goes into them. Report
    I will definitely try it, it sounds and looks DELICIOUS!!! Report
    my mouth is watering as i type this. WOW... it sounds DELICIOUS!! I WILL TRY IT IN THE NEXT HOUR!! Report
    Sounds so yummy! I got all the ingredients......best way to use up this rotisseri chicken DH brought yesterday since I was too ill to cook! We used up all the reserved food in the freezer - thank god, I feel better to cook today! Report
    This sounds delicious. I will definitely try it. I would like to see this series (article) continued. Good idea! Report
    Made this without the beans and spinach- I simply didn't have them. I did use ground turkey and my DH and I loved this recipe! Report
    I can't wait to try this recipe. It sounds so good! Report
    Can't wait to try it. Report
    looks and sounds great and I love the idea of putting corn in it! Report
    For the vegetarian version, shouldn't you specify vegetable stock or water, rather than the chicken stock in the recipe? Report
    Yes, I would surely try this soup! Sounds soooo good! Report
    Sounds delicious. I love soup but agree with a previous post it doesn't always fill me. I like it as lunch but then need something more for dinner. I think it has something to do with the act of chewing. I don't feel like I've gotten a full meal if there's not something to chew so my soups usually end up loaded and looking more stew-like. Report
    The thing I hate about soup is that it actually ISN'T filling. I love the tastes of lots of various soups. But unless it's an appetizer to real food, I don't eat it. Report
    I already make a soup very similar to that one and have for several years. My husband likes it alot. Report
    Going to make this soon ..I love soup home made it always way better than canned.. and are easy to make.. thanks Report
    I would like to try instead: Chicken pasta, or chicken spaguetti.with ketchup. Report
    This soup recipe is definately a keeper. And at less than 250 calories. The variations sound good too. I can't wait to try it with some cornbread. With our weather here in the 80s this soup may be a little heavy for these hot days in SoCal, but great for fall and winter. Report
    At what stage does the spinach get added in? It's in the ingredients list but doesn't appear to be in the instructions, unless I'm just missing it. Report
    I make a soup very similar to this. Instead of topping with low fat sour cream we top ours with plain greek yogurt, low fat cheese & salsa. It is always yummy and a great comfort food on cold nights. Report
    Here are a few more easy-to-prepare, healthy recipes:

    Simple Swiss Steak Pot Roast

    Light, Low-Fat Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

    136 Calorie Chicken Caesar Salad

    Exta-Light Scandinavian Style Beef Stroghanoff
    Panera Bread had a low-fat Chicken Tortilla soup which my daughter and I love - this has most of the ingredients, so now we can make our own! Thanks! Report
    This sounds really yummy. Funny that after I'm feeling like I need a switch up with my meals, mexican or something with some spice is what I'm craving. It's a great way to use simple healthy ingredients and make it taste good. Report
    This sounds really yummy. It for sure goes into my " soup recipes to try" file.
    Thanks Report