I don’t love to cook. Dealing with my demanding toddler, and often fluctuating energy reserves, cooking has evolved into a source of anxiety for me. I loathe the question, “what’s for dinner?” To ease my cooking anxiety I search for fast, easy and healthy meals that ideally take less than 30 minutes start to finish, including prep time! This means minimal steps and minimal dishes, but I don’t want to sacrifice flavors or nutrition. While I know it sounds impossible, it can be done. I’m here to share one of my go to 30 Minute Dinners with you: Chicken Tortilla Soup.
Before we get to it, there are a few tricks I use to help minimize the number of dishes I wash and the total amount of time this recipe takes. First trick is chopping chicken last. I chop everything that needs to be chopped on one cutting board with one knife. I make sure to do any meats last so that when everything’s done I still only have to wash one knife and one cutting board.
Next, is all about the onion. Anytime I need to chop an onion for a recipe I chop one or two HUGE red onions. I dice that sucker right up. Then, I use what I need and stick the leftovers in a bag and toss it in the freezer. I use this frozen pre-diced onion for most of my cooking. Normally any recipe calls for cooking the onion so having it frozen doesn’t affect it’s taste/texture. It cuts down on dishes, time and best of all how many times I am forced to cry at the mercy of an onion. You can also apply this philosophy to many veggies. Celery, carrots and peppers are some of my other favorites to prep in one go and freeze for later.
Another time saver is using leftovers. This soup is best the day after having rice and beans for dinner. I plan ahead and make a big batch of R&B’s and use leftovers to throw in the soup. No leftovers? No problem, throw your rice into the rice cooker and add it at the end of the recipe. Pop open a can of beans, and you’re done. But remember, I’m all about cleaning as few pots as I can, so leftover rice works great in this recipe! Have leftover white rice from takeout? Toss it in! Any leftover rice will do.
Lastly, I use a chicken broth concentrate. This stuff is amazing. It’s a liquid so no annoying paste to try to dissolve, you just squirt in a tbsp or two into a cup of water and you’ve got delicious and easy broth. It also comes in beef and vegetable. If you can find it, buy it. It lasts up to 6 months in the fridge but I usually use one every 2 months or so.
Now that you know all my time saving tricks, let’s get cooking.
- 1.5 cups rice & beans
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1 small red onion chopped *
- 1 cup frozen sweet corn
- 1/2 cup chopped peppers
- Chicken breast (optional)
- Olive oil
- 3 cups chicken broth/ chicken broth concentrate
- McMormicks Mexican seasoning **
- Chop onion & toss in soup pot with some olive oil and frozen corn. Saute over medium heat.
- While onion cooks- chop tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro. Put chopped ingredients in a soup bowl then you can just rinse the soup bowl to use to eat the soup when you’re done cooking.
- Chop chicken breast into small cubes. The smaller the cube the faster it cooks!
- Add chicken breast into the soup pot with onions and corn, continue sauteing until chicken is almost all the way cooked through
- Add McMormicks seasoning to desired taste. I add a bunch, probably close to a TBSP. I like to make sure it gives a good coating to the chicken, onion and corn mixture.
- When the chicken starts to brown, slowly add in some water and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. [Replace water with broth if not using a broth concentrate.]
- Add in chicken broth concentrate, stir.
- Throw in peppers, tomatoes, rice & beans and cilantro: bring to a simmer.
- While the soup is simmering, wash the one cutting board and knife, and rinse out any bowls used to corral ingredients.
- Take soup off heat.
- Serve with fresh avocado, a squeeze of lime, and some tortilla chips if you’re feeling fancy.
Pat yourself on the back as you enjoy your delicious soup knowing you only have 1 pot, 1 ladle, and 1 stirring spoon to wash after dinner.
** Substitute a blend of paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin & cinnamon for McMormicks Seasoning