Southwestern style creamy chicken noodle soup

My high school cafeteria had really good food and I don’t think that’s a misplaced memory. Every Friday they’d do grilled cheese and soup and my favorite of the eight or so soups was this “southwestern” (or whatever that meant in northern Michigan) creamy chicken noodle soup. I think about it often and finally made something like it.

photo of completed recipe: My high school cafeteria had really good food and I don’t think that’s a misplaced memory. Every Friday they’d do grilled cheese and soup and my favorite…
  • You'll be eating in: 50 minutes

  • Active time: 30 minutes

  • Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2

    tablespoons butter

  • 1

    onion, diced

  • 2

    stalks celery, diced

  • 1

    teaspoon kosher salt

  • 4

    cloves garlic, minced

  • 2

    tablespoons flour

  • 1 1/2

    teaspoons cumin

  • 1

    tablespoon oregano (preferably Mexican oregano)

  • 5-6

    cups chicken stock

  • 4

    ounces mild green chile

  • 6

    ounces fusilli or other short pasta

  • 1

    cup corn kernels (frozen, canned, or fresh)

  • 1

    (14.5 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

  • 2

    cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded

  • 1

    cup heavy cream

  • salt to taste (start with 1 teaspoon - really depends on your taste, your salt, and how salty your stock already is)

  • freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions

  1. Prepare the ingredients

    If you're starting with uncooked chicken, I recommend poaching it (you can use the leftover liquid as part of your chicken stock).

    Dice your onion and celery - you don't have to be exact with any of these measurements. I like to have at least double the amount of onion as celery.

  2. Saute the flavor base

    In a medium-large dutch oven or pot (4qt+), saute the onion and celery in 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat until soft, about 8-10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add in 4 cloves of minced garlic and saute for 1 minute longer, careful not to burn the garlic.

    Mix in 2 tablespoons flour, coating the vegetables and mixing until no more raw flour is visible. Add in the cumin and oregano and let the spices toast for a minute.

  3. Stir in 5 cups of chicken stock. Dump in one 4 ounce can of green chiles. Bring up to a boil.

  4. Cook the pasta

    Add in about 6 ounces of dry pasta and one additional cup water, lower heat to medium and continue to simmer until pasta is fully cooked, about 15 minutes.

    Alternatively, you can cook the pasta separately according to package directions which will be a little faster (at a boil) but requires a separate pot.

  5. Finish

    Add in 1 cup of heavy cream, the drained black beans, corn, cooked chicken. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Add additional stock or cream to reach your desired soup consistency.

    Serve with toppings of your choice (cilantro, scallions, cheese, sour cream, Aleppo pepper, etc.).

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Notes

Pasta will absorb a lot of water, so you may need to add additional liquid (stock, water, or cream) depending on how much pasta you add and how thirsty your pasta is.

Substitutions

Soups are great for improvising and cleaning out your fridge, so please improvise as necessary!

  • Vegetables: add in other vegetables if you want, poblano or green bell pepper would be great in this.
  • Pasta: any short pasta shape would work fine. Egg noodles would also work and would require less time to cook.
  • Flour: I don't recommend leaving out the flour, it helps thicken the soup and deliver the right consistency. I haven't tested this recipe with other thickeners, but you could try corn starch/potato startch/tapioca starch.
  • Cream: cream cheese is a good alternative to heavy cream - blend with a little bit of stock to get it to a pourable consistency before adding it to the soup. You could try substituting half and half or regular milk for the heavy cream, but those are lower in fat so it won't add as much richness. Or leave it out if you don't want a creamy soup, it's good without it!

Storage

Keep in the fridge and eat within 5 days. Creamy soups don't freeze well: the dairy will separate from the rest of the broth. If you want to make a big batch and freeze half, I would freeze it before you add the cream and then add additional cream when you reheat it.

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