Friday, January 7, 2011

Sopa de Pollo

Actually craving it as I write...
For some reason, the flavors of Mexico are soothing to me. I know the reason. My mother, whilst I was in the midst of her belly, ate a plethora of foods, from none other than the neighborhood Mexican restaurant. Now, maybe I'm stretching the truth a bit here when I say that it was a weekly outing for her, but I do know that once I was out of said womb, it was a weekly ritual to join friends at Cazadores on Friday night.

I know some of you cringe at the thought of American-Mexican food, and I concur that the state of Mexican food in this country is unjustly represented, but hear me out. My sister just LOVES the queso. It is always a perfect, unassuming bowl of cheese dip they fling on the table just scalding hot from the microwave, but it is also more than that. Then there's the Child's Plate No. 3 (my childhood favorite): a cheese quesadilla with bean instead of rice, please. But it's more than that. Then there's longer on the menu, but always a GREAT standby. But it's more than that. Chile Verde, favorite meal to share with Dad. Taco salad, on lighter days. Nachos Supreme when I was in my prime. And chicken soup.

Little Sopa de Pollo, over there on the bottom of the left hand side of the menu, I see you. I see how (yet again) unassuming and simple you are. But ah! here is the perk of being a Regular. A perfect meal, but it's more than that. Those dishes really bring me back to childhood and the nostalgic reality of life. I try to go to Cazadores every time I'm home, but sometimes I don't make it. On my last trip, we ordered ToGo and I was about to leave to come back to my apartment. I got chicken soup. I was lost in my thoughts while I hastily gobbled down chunks of chicken and avocado. The perfect meal after an 8 hour car ride when you want something light. The perfect way to lift your spirits on a cold winter day. The perfect accompaniment to a long, sickly day spent on the couch. Why can't I make this? It felt like an epiphany. I mean sure, I can make a MEAN carnita and all the enchiladas in the world but THIS? Of course, it is REALLY REALLY simple.

Sopa de Pollo
shredded chicken from 2 cooked chicken breasts or meat from a rotisserie chicken
one-two boxes low sodium chicken broth
cooked brown rice (1-1.5c uncooked)
Pico de Gallo (make your own by FINELY chopping 2:2:1:1 onions:tomatoes:jalepeno:cilantro)
1-2 avocado, depending on taste
chopped green pepper (my addition)

1. Cook brown rice according to the instructions on the package. Shred chicken into bite-sized pieces. Heat up in a saucepan with the chicken broth. 
2. Meanwhile, chop all your veggies. Slice the limes for juicing. Squeeze some lime on avocado so it doesn't brown.
3. When the broth is heated, scoop a bit of rice in your bowl, then some chicken and broth, then add all other ingredients. Squeeze fresh lime on top.
Great with a cheese quesadilla on the side.