Tomatillo Soup with Shredded Chicken


Recently I was going through my fridge and came across some tomatillos sitting in a large Ziploc bag looking neglected. I had forgotten that I had purchased them for my friend Jesse for something he was going to make.  He then left town abandoning them and I was left staring at the tomatillos slightly confused. I had never cooked with a tomatillo; moreover, I was pretty sure the only things that I had ever had them in were sauces. I wasn’t entirely sure what a tomatillo actually was but I sure wasn’t going to let them go to waste! I fired up the computer, put my search engine in gear and started reading. Interestingly, there is scant information on tomatillos but I did find this out which I found not all that helpful but interesting nonetheless.

The name “tomato” derives from the Nahuatl “tomatl”; this word is a generic one for globose fruits or berries which have many seeds, watery flesh and which are sometimes enclosed in a membrane.

I didn’t find that many varieties of recipes either. Almost all the recipes were for various salsas, some sauces to go with enchiladas but nothing that really made my mouth water. I finally did come across this site, which had compiled several recipes from a variety of sources. Scanning through this site, I saw a recipe for tomatillo chicken soup. After reading the recipe and getting the general idea on how to make the soup I came up with the following recipe. Now, this recipe is largely dictated by what I already had in the fridge and since the entire project began from my need to not let anything go to waste I decided to take full advantage of that idea. The soup came out so wonderfully that I recommend not deviating from this recipe. This soup is bursting with flavor; it has both a smoky and a fresh flavor. It is heavier than a broth soup, but not as thick as a purée and the shredded chicken in it makes it hearty enough for a main course. Yea, I know, only a crazy woman would stand in her kitchen making soup at the end of July in 90+ degree heat, but after eating two bowls of it (my inner glutton was not controllable that evening) I was so glad that I had, and that Jesse had possessed the genius foresight to leave the tomatillos in my care.

Tomatillo Soup with Shredded Chicken

Serves 4-6

3 legs and thighs of a chicken

1 ½ pounds tomatillos husked and roughly chopped

6 large garlic cloves chopped

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 anaheim pepper, cleaned and chopped

1 red jalapeño pepper, cleaned and chopped

4 cups homemade chicken stock

4 tablespoons cilantro, roughly chopped

2-3 limes

Crème Fraiche

Kosher salt

Fresh ground pepper

Ancho chili powder

Olive oil

Tomatillos and Peppers Chopped and Ready

Wash and pat chicken legs dry. If your legs and thighs are not already separated, do so. Generously season with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and ancho chili powder. In a large pan over a medium high heat, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 7 minutes per side.

Seasoned and Browned Chicken

Remove the chicken from the pan. If your chicken has rendered a lot of fat, remove the fat from the pan so you are left with only 3 tablespoons in the pan itself.

In the same pan lower the heat to medium and add the garlic and onion sautéing them while scraping up the brown bits and spices left by the chicken. Saute the onions and garlic until they begin to soften, add your tomatillos and chili peppers and toss with the onions. Take all of this and put it in a large soup pot. Add the chicken pieces and the 4 cups of chicken stock.

Everything in the Pot!

Bring all of this to a boil and then reduce to a hearty simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Remove the chicken pieces from the pot and let cool. While the chicken is cooling, purée the rest of the contents in the pot with a hand-held immersion blender until smooth. Shred chicken and put the meat back into the pot. Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle each bowl with 1 tablespoon of the roughly chopped cilantro. Add 1 ½ tablespoons of crème fraiche, then sprinkle the soup with the juice from ½ of a lime, or a teaspoon of lime juice and serve.

The Final Product

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