Chicken Tamale Soup

The smell of this soup transported me right back to Mexico City. It has that savory, acidic, herby, and smoky scent of a real down-to-earth cantina or street-front taco stand. It calls to mind the kind of authentic south-of-the-border flavors that don’t rely on such Americanized notions of Mexican food as ground beef, refried beans, tortilla chips, sour cream, and heaps of cheese (all in one dish).

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It is pure heaven and the kind of comfort food that won’t leave you feeling guilty. Though, don’t skimp on the protein. Chicken thigh is essential–it’s just not going to be as flavorful with chicken breast. And don’t skimp on the raw onion and lime garnishes: they are everything here.

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Chicken Tamale Soup

Adapted from How to Cook Everything Fast

Makes 4-5 servings

8 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup masa harina

1 medium yellow onion, trimmed and halved

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

3 chipotles in adobo and accompanying sauce

salt

pepper

1.75 pounds chicken thighs, boneless, skinless, and cut into strips

1 lime, cut into wedges

1 avocado, cubed

1/3 cup shredded cheddar or other cheese

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Heat the stock in a large pot over high heat. While it is heating up, place the masa harina, 1/2 of the onion (save the rest for garnish, finely chopped), 1/2 cup of cilantro (again, the rest is set aside for garnish), the chipotles, and a sprinkling of salt an pepper in a food processor. Once the stock comes to a boil, turn the heat off, and place two cups of the heated stock in the food processor. Blend on high until all the ingredients are pureed.

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Place the puree in the pot with the stock. Turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce to a low boil, and let cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken thighs, let the mixture come back to a low boil, and cook for an additional 10 minutes, again stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and ladle into bowls.

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Serve with the chopped cilantro and onion, avocado, lime wedges, and cheese.

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