Chicken Fajita Wild Rice Soup

Chicken Fajita Wild Rice Soup is the perfect mid-week dinner. Packed with flavour, fresh, comforting and fully satisfying.

I love it when a quick midweek meal suddenly reveals itself to be an absolute stunner out of nowhere. When I’m slamming ingredients left and right into a saucepan, keen to get dinner on the table in under twenty minutes then I can’t always be bothered to taste here, adjust for seasoning there. The salt and pepper get tossed into the pot mercilessly so it’s anyone’s guess on whether I have got the balance right until we’re tucking in on the sofa.

I think it adds to the excitement of dinner time; will I have got a bit heavy handed with the cumin again? Or perhaps a little under handed with the chilli? Almost certainly. Once the first few bites are underway Luke usually has to get back up to get something, salt, tabasco, sriracha; usually salt. I am obstinate that I got it right first time so will rarely return to the kitchen, oh yes and I’m lazy.

So when I got everything bang on last Wednesday we were all pretty shocked. I was perhaps a little offended that Luke felt the need to repeat more than once how actually this was a really delicious dinner and I felt he really hammed up the yummy noises. I pride myself on being a bit of a cook it so happens and this didn’t particularly fill me with confidence about my usual offerings. I begrudgingly agreed though, this Chicken Fajjita and Wild Rice Soup one was definitely a keeper and as I was on a roll I made it the next couple of nights for good measure, but I didn’t get such resounding applause the second or third times and the yummy noises definitely receeded. Spoilsport.

I do not underestimate the foundation of a really good stock in this (or any) soup and I hit the motherload when I found the last of the ham stock lurking at the back of the freezer from Christmas. However, if you can only get your hands on some supermarket standby or a stock cube then the smoky triumvirate of chipotle, smoked garlic powder and sweet paprika will mean you don’t miss out too much.

The beauty of this soup was that I basically just made chicken fajitas, frying off a load of onions, peppers and smoky spiced chicken then added stock and a mix of basmati and wild rice. Really the whole thing was a charmed idea from the off. However I will not lie to you, this soup is pretty much all about the toppings and I think it’s important to load your finished soup up with all the good stuff you would normally put on your fajitas. Let that bowl overflow my friend, there is no judgement here.

We are looking for textures and flavours in our toppings and since my fridge is always stocked with coriander, avocado, limes and sour cream, as I crave fajitas often, there was no question that they would insist on getting involved. As luck would have it I am having a bit of a moment with pumpkin seeds so they got shovelled on top and it turned out they added a much needed crunch to the proceedings. Salty sharp feta also turned out to be perfection since it is a pretty good substitution for proper authentic Mexican cheese and it just so happened I got some in this week. If not, cheddar would have sufficed.

I feel like the whole dinner was kismet but even if you don’t have any of the ingredients to hand at all then I urge you to put them on your next shopping list as this soup is so good that it’s definitely worth planning for.

Chicken Fajita Wild Rice Soup

A flavour packed soup, fresh, comforting and fully satisfying.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 308kcal

Ingredients

  • 450 g chicken breast cubed
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle in adobo
  • 1 teaspoon smoked garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion sliced finely
  • ½ red pepper sliced finely
  • ½ yellow pepper sliced finely
  • ½ green pepper sliced finely
  • 100 g sweetcorn kernals
  • Juice of ½ orange
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 200 g wild and basmati rice mix cooked
  • Optional Toppings: crumbled feta,sour cream, sliced avocado, pumpkin seeds, fresh coriander

Instructions

  • Combine the chipotle, garlic powder, paprika, cumin and coriander together then rub into the cubed chicken. Set aside whilst you get the soup started.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large wide bottomed saucepan then when hot add the onion and peppers and gently fry for about 15 minutes until softened and just starting to catch.
  • Add the chicken and the sweetcorn and mix in.
  • Pour over the orange juice, lime juice and the stock and bring everything back up the boil. Once it’s there, turn down to simmer for about 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Stir in the cooked rice then divide between the bowls, topping up with as many accoutrements as your bowls can handle.

Nutrition

Calories: 308kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 151mg | Potassium: 638mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 960IU | Vitamin C: 63mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 1.1mg

Enchiladas Suisa

Enchiladas Suisa
There is a little happy dance that is dusted off whenever I mention that I’m making enchiladas for dinner. If you want to try it at home, it’s performed in a little hopping motion from foot to foot whilst waving your hands high in the air chanting ‘Enchiladas, enchiladas.’ Imagine a super happy and joyful rain dance but in the kitchen.

Ever since I stopped eating pasta enchiladas now reign supreme where once lasagne lorded over all. They both involve meat encased in some sort of carbohydrate, in this case corn tortillas, with a rich tomato sauce and lashings of cheese. They are an absolute favourite in our house. However, recently I have been pushing the boat out where my enchiladas are concerned and going all Suisa. Enchiladas Suisa replace the tomatoes and red chillies involved in the more standard enchilada recipe with a tomatillos and green chillies for a beautifully green sauce which is then finished off with plenty of sour cream before being weighed down with a mountain of cheese. You may remember that I’m a huge advocate of the green pepper and I would much rather go for the fresher slightly bitter taste of green than the lip puckering sweetness of red any day so you can imagine that Enchiladas Suisa suits my palette completely plus the addition of the sour cream makes it so much better than your run-of-the-mill enchiladas.

You can get tomatillos in the UK, they look a bit like small green tomatoes but unlike their un-ripened cousins they are encased in a husk if bought fresh and are fully ripe. They are also much tarter than a green tomato and are celebrated in Mexican cooking where they are often cooked down into salsa and enchilada sauces, just like here. This time of year tomatillos are way out of season but I don’t let that bother me as tinned tomatillos are a very good substitue. I’ve never seen them in a supermarket but it’s very easy to buy the tinned versions from Sous Chef, which is where I buy all my specialist ingredients.

Corn Tortillas

It is perfectly acceptable to make enchiladas with the flour tortillas you can get just about anywhere but corn tortillas are the traditional option. They hold together much better than a flour tortilla underneath the weight of the sauce and provide good robust flavour. The best ones are from the Cool Chile Co. as they are gluten-free and taste deliciously corny.

If you have access to good Mexican cheeses then by all means use those here to make the meal truly authentic but I’m pretty sure you will need to substitute which is what I did and I think a good British cheese like Wensleydale fits the bill perfectly. It’s also what Thomasina Miers uses in her Enchiladas Suisa recipe in Wahaca so if it’s good enough for her, then it’s good enough for us. To accentuate the full-on cheesiness of the dish I’ve also added some slices of mozzarella so that the strings of goodness pull away from each other upon serving, always guaranteed to make your mouth water.

Enchiladas Suisa

This is a Mexican dish but the full impact of the chilli heat depends on you. When we made it a few weeks ago we left all the seeds from the green chilli in the mix and it was eye wincingly powerful but if you take all the seeds out then the sauce can be too bland. A happy medium usually works by discarding half of the seeds but each to his own.

Ancho Chilli Powder

Enchiladas are a fantastic use of leftover chicken, run through with a bit of cumin and ancho chilli powder (use ordinary chilli powder if you can’t get hold of ancho chilli powder, but again you can order it from Sous Chef), then wrapped into the corn tortillas before being topped with sauce. However, I often make this with fresh chicken as I have done here. Of course, by using chicken breast there is the worry that it could go dry but I find if I just lightly cook the chicken in the pan it will finish cooking in the oven once encased in their tortillas and protected by the sauce retaining it’s tender texture.

Enchiladas Suisa

Enchiladas Suisa
Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 green chilli, diced
800g tomatillos (tinned or fresh)
½ teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
½ teaspoon cumin
25g fresh coriander, including stalks, roughly chopped
175g sour cream
125g mozzarella
100g Wensleydale cheese
About 8-10 corn tortillas

For the chicken filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 garlic clove, crushed
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon chilli powder
1 green pepper

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. First make the tomatillo sauce by heating the olive oil in a large saucepan and adding the onion, crushed garlic and green chilli. Sauté for about 10 minutes until soft.
  3. Drain the tomatillos if using tinned or remove from their husks if using fresh and chop them up roughly. Add to the saucepan along with the paprika, cumin, coriander and seasoning. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 20-25 minutes, stirring through occasionally.
  4. Remove the sauce from the heat then blitz up in the saucepan using a hand held blender until smooth. Pour in the sour cream and put back on to the heat, stirring in thoroughly until hot. Set aside whilst you prepare the chicken.
  5. Heat up the olive oil in a wide bottomed saucepan and add in the onion. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until softened.
  6. Add the chicken, garlic, cumin, chilli powder and green pepper along with some seasoning and cook on a medium heat until the chicken has begun to colour. Remove from the heat.
  7. Take a tortilla and warm it through in a small saucepan for about 10 seconds each side, then remove from the heat, fill with the chicken and tuck into an ovenproof dish. Repeat with each tortilla until all the chicken has been used up and the dish is full.
  8. Pour the tomatillo sauce over evenly then dot the top with crumbled Wensleydale and the sliced mozzarella.
  9. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until bubbling and the cheese has begun to colour.

Chipotle Braised Brisket

Chipotle Braised Brisket

I love living in London for the simple reason of choice. We have a few brilliant butchers within walking distance from my house which I frequent on a weekly basis. Or if we liked we could get our meat from the farmers’ market. Our closest one is the one at Ally Pally and is the one we go to most often, but if we fancy making a bit of a trip then we sometimes go to Broadway Market over in Hackney on a Saturday.

Chipotle Braised Brisket

The grand choice of butchers and farms pretty much on our doorstep doesn’t always mean I can quite manage to leave the house though and once in a while I like to treat myself and buy our meat from Turner & George, an online butcher who deliver around London. The joy of this obviously being that it gets sent directly to my front door and I don’t even have to change out of my pyjamas. Turner & George prices are extremely reasonable and they do things like preserved bone marrow, boneless chicken legs and an absolute plethora of gluten-free sausages. Best of all, when it arrives, the order explains the provenance of each animal so you feel you know exactly what you are eating and where it came from. I don’t prefer either option, the butchers, the farmers’ market or an online delivery but it is fun to mix it up.

A few weeks ago after receiving my bounty from Turner & George after a particularly indulgent spree I found I had two beef briskets in my package. After checking with my original order it appeared that I had clicked on the item twice which was a bit of a pain. Brisket is a bit special occasion meat in our house, not due to its expense, as really it’s incredibly economical, but due to the longevity of its cooking time. Whereas your usual stewed meat might be done in 3 or 4 hours, to reach its optimum succulence brisket requires a good 8 hours of cooking time. I have tried whacking up the heat, slicing it thinly but have always been disappointed when I try to rush the process. As you can imagine, not every day allows for the level of organisation required to assemble your evening meal at 10am, and guarantee you are going to be in the whole day to monitor proceedings.

Chipotle Braised Brisket

Also, our household only consists of two hungry souls, well there are six but I don’t think I’ll count Willow, Wesley, Billy Buddy (and Little Bean yet) as far as portioning out the brisket is concerned. So a 1.5kg cut of brisket sees us through the week and then some. Two briskets then, wasn’t necessarily welcomed as good fortune, especially since freezer space is limited due to my ice cream obession.

The first brisket I prepared the day it arrived, I cooked it low and slow with plenty of onions, tomatoes and garlic and served it with a hot and spicy barbecue sauce. It wasn’t the prettiest affair but it was delicious. After working our way through that for a week I didn’t feel enough enthusiasm to repeat the meal so soon so I managed to squeeze the other brisket in the freezer, which called for a couple of tubs of ice cream to be promptly removed and eaten, and waited for inspiration to hit.

Chipotle Braised Brisket

I have been meaning to write about beef tacos on my blog for a while. We eat them a lot, they always feel like a bit of a treat as they come loaded with all the best things in life, cheese, sour cream and guacamole plus I have an excellent recipe for the cooking spices which I’ve been honing throughout my cooking years. When I decided that I would make tacos again this week I suddenly realised this was exactly what my extra beef brisket had been sent to me to achieve. A smokily spiced extravaganza but still packed with a mountain of onions and peppers just like my normal beef taco recipe. But here, the meat would be melting into the juices and softly scooped into the taco before being loaded with all its accoutrements.

Chipotle Braised Brisket Tacos

Needless to say it worked out particularly well, otherwise I wouldn’t be sharing it with you. I used both dried chipotle and chipotle in adobo for the chilli hit, then added sweetly smoked paprika, warming cumin and coriander to round out the spices. I piled sliced onions into the bottom of the casserole dish so that they became a sturdy thicket for the brisket and I added a litre of stock around the meat, as I have paid the price before for not adding enough cooking liquid to my brisket. Over the course of the 7-8 hour braise most of the stock is reduced to an aromatic syrupy gravy, sparky with lime and spices and cushioned with caramelised onions and the sliver of peppers which are added in the last half hour of cooking so they don’t disappear into oblivion.

I have eaten my Chipotle Braised Brisket two meals in a row in soft and warmed corn tacos but this evening I plan on rustling up some spicy coriander rice to accompany my next incarnation of this most delicious of briskets.

Chipotle Braised Brisket Tacos

Chipotle Braised Brisket

1.5kg beef brisket, unrolled
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, roasted and crushed
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, roasted and crushed
1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
1 teaspoon smoked garlic powder
1 litre hot beef stock
1 dried chipotle
1 teaspoon chipotle in adobo
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon sugar
5 cooking onions, sliced
1 red pepper, de-seeded and sliced thinly
1 green pepper, de-seeded and sliced thinly
1 yellow pepper, de-seeded and sliced thinly

Serve with guacamole, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, spring onions and warmed soft corn tacos

  1. Take the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, paprika, garlic and seasoning and rub all over the brisket. If you have time you can leave the rub to permeate the meat for up to eight hours.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
  3. Soak the dried chipotle in the hot stock for 15 minutes. Take the chipotle out of the stock, then remove stalk and the seeds and chop finely.
  4. Put the chipotle back into the stock, then add in the chipotle in adobo, malt vinegar, lime juice and sugar and stir well until the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Take a huge casserole dish and arrange the sliced onions in a heap at the bottom, then place the brisket on top. Pour the stock around the brisket, but not on top of the meat. Place the lid on and
  6. Cook the brisket for about 7 hours but do check every hour to make sure the meat isn’t going dry.
  7. After 7 hours, remove the brisket and cut into slices, the knife should melt into the meat.
  8. Stir the sliced peppers into the oniony chipotle gravy at the bottom of the casserole dish, then add the brisket on top, submerging it into the gravy so it doesn’t go dry.
  9. Place the lid back on the casserole dish and put back in the oven for about half an hour until the peppers are cooked and the brisket is pretty much falling apart.