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Cheap Eats: Green Chile Chicken Soup

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When my youngest son comes home and sees this recipe cooking in the crock pot, he literally squeals and jumps up and down. A little odd for a teenager, but I’ll take it. Fair warning, I cook this a little differently every time I make it, so, this will be more of a guideline than a recipe. All of the mandatory items in the recipe can be purchased at Aldi, and this recipe is also great for using leftover mashed and/or baked potatoes.

The recipe is loosely based on the soup at a steakhouse I worked at over twenty years ago in Las Cruces, New Mexico. In southern New Mexico, potatoes are often a part of traditional “Mexican” (probably “New Mexican” with strong Apache and Navajo influences), so yes, this really is a traditional dish, made in a modern way.

Basic ingredients (One Up ingredients in parentheses for when you have more or less time and/or money). I have never tried to make a gluten or lactose free version of this recipe, and would appreciate any reports of attempts.

2 cans (10.5 oz) Cream of Chicken soup, any brand

3 cans (10.5 oz) Cream of Potato soup, any brand (or just more Cream of Chicken, or a basic homemade cream of chicken and potato)

5 cups milk (or evaporated milk, or cream, or water plus dry milk, or even yogurt) – more or less to taste.

3-5 cans of diced green chiles – NOT jalapenos (or fresh green chiles – Anchoes are very good – preferably roasted before dicing if you have time).

Heat everything except the green chiles in the crock pot on low until hot enough to serve, add green chiles, wait about 15-20 minutes, and serve over or with bread or rice in a bowl. I like mine thick, more like a soup than a stew. You can put the main ingredients in the crock pot in the morning on warm and turn it up to low when you get home if you don’t have time to prepare when you get home. It should be stirred regularly, but it’s a pretty forgiving recipe if you don’t. It might look funny (that’s why there’s no picture), but it’ll taste fine.

Yes, really. That’s the entire recipe. And it’s a wonderful, flavorful warm dish for when you’re broke and digging through the pantry for something to eat. But its the add-ins that bring it up a notch. Try the following:

  • Add leftover mashed potatoes and/or leftover baked potatoes (with or without the skins, chopped into bite sized pieces). Leftover mashed potatoes made with real butter and milk make it taste AMAZING.
  • Add leftover chicken or ready made diced chicken
  • Add diced onions and sweet pepper (one each) to the green chiles and pan fry them before putting them in the soup.
  • Add white beans, either ground into flour to thicken the soup to a more stew-like consistency
  • Add corn, black beans, and red peppers (or one of those frozen mixes containing all three) with the green chiles and serve over cornbread for a brighter color and prettier presentation.

In my family we usually serve the soup over Kings Original Sweet Hawaiian Rolls (which we call “poison mushroom rolls” for reasons that have nothing to do with their wonderful flavor. Italian or French bread are also wonderful, as are brown and white rice, or even white bread if you have nothing else.

This isn’t a particularly nutritious dish unless you add a lot of beans and other veggies to it, but it is great for cold, damp fall and winter days when you want to nosh all day. It’s even better the second day, so long as you don’t let it burn in the crock pot, but it has a tendency to separate and look funky. Turn down the lights and enjoy it anyway.

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