I always cook more chicken than needed for a recipe, and freeze individual cooked chicken breasts for soups, stews and casseroles. One large chicken breast can be stretched into a delicious, nutritious and frugal meal to satisfy a family of four by adding vegetables, broth and a starch. While chicken breasts are expensive grocery items if used as “the star” of a meal, they are super for nights when a frugal and comforting soup is needed. This recipe evolved out of trying to use up leftovers from three dinners – and I know that cream of mushroom soup isn’t a traditional Mexican ingredient, but it works in this recipe!
2 tbsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large meaty chicken breast, cooked
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 28 ounce can diced and spiced tomatoes
2 cups of water
2 packets or cubes of low sodium chicken bouillon
1/2 tsp chili powder or taco seasoning mix
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp thyme
3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup brown rice, uncooked
Using a large saucepan, brown chopped onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium high heat. Add soup, diced tomatoes and their liquid and water, and reduce the heat to medium. While this is warming, shred the chicken with two forks. I do this on a glass cutting board, and by the time I have finished shredding the chicken the soup is warm and I simply slide the chicken into the pot. Add chicken bouillon and chili powder. Experiment with the amounts – you and your family may prefer to increase the chicken bouillon and reduce the chili powder or taco seasoning for a less spicy soup, or decrease the bouillon and increase the chili powder for a zestier flavor. Stir in pepper, bay leaves and thyme, then add the frozen corn kernels and uncooked brown rice. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves and serve with homemade rolls or bread , toasted tortilla strips and a light salad for a heartier meal.
Options: This soup can easily be made with leftover cooked brown rice. Simply add 10 minutes prior to serving. For vegetarians or flexitarians or as a Meatless Monday Soup option, use red kidney beans, black beans or lentils instead of chicken. Leftover ham, sausage or cooked shrimp are also delicious additions to this frugal and hearty soup.