Chipotle Chicken Chowder

Last week a switch flipped and in the course of two days we went from a high of nearly 70 to temperatures in the 40′s. Seriously, I was rocking my flip flops at the start of the week, and by the end I found myself digging through my closet to unearth sweaters and my winter coat. And for the record? I’m so not ready for this weather. I swear, the older I get the more of a wimp I become about cold. I’m usually too cheap to turn the heat on until it becomes absolutely necessary to prevent the pipes from freezing, but this year at the first sign of cold weather I had it cranking.

Chipotle Chicken Chowder

On the plus side (if there is one, I’m trying be positive here :) ), tis the season for soups and stews! I’m not sure there’s a more perfect fall dinner than a big bowl of soup and a warm roll fresh from the oven. Both are likely to be staples on our menu for months to come, which gives me plenty of time to try out all the recipes I’ve been pinning recently.

Chipotle Chicken Chowder

First up was this Chipotle Chicken Chowder. I’m still not sure whether it’s technically a chowder at all as the fairly thin consistency of the broth is more in line with a soup to me but let’s not get hung up on that – just go with it :) The chowder is chunky, packed with shredded chicken, potatoes, and hominy (a new-to-me ingredient that I now love!), and oh so hearty. It includes a chipotle chile as well as some extra adobo sauce, giving it great smoky flavor. It’s not enough to make it spicy, but if you wanted more heat I’m sure you could add an extra chile or two. The recipe probably takes a little longer to throw together than I’d want to spend on a weeknight, so I’d suggest saving it for the weekend. Prep it on Sunday and you’ll have enough to feed your family for days; the flavor just gets better as it sits in the fridge.

Oh and added bonus – the chowder is healthy, clocking in at just under 250 calories per serving! It’s nice to have a few healthier comfort food recipes in your stash, and this one definitely fits the bill.

Chipotle Chicken Chowder
adapted from Cooking Light, December 2004 (via MyRecipes)

{Note: the recipe calls for both a chipotle chile in adobo sauce as well as additional adobo sauce – the chile is added at the beginning of the recipe, but the extra sauce is reserved and added at the end of the cooking process as described below.}

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced
2 medium onions, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 large celery rib, diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 medium red potatoes (about 12 oz), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 (15.5 oz) can white hominy, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon adobo sauce
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
lime wedges, for serving

Set a large Dutch oven over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil shimmers, add the chile, onion, carrot, celery, cumin, oregano, thyme, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the black pepper to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 7-8 minutes, or until the onion has softened. Stir in the chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the chicken, then cover the pot and reduce the heat – summer for 20-30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through (it’ll register 160-165 F on an instant-read thermometer). Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-size pieces. Tent with foil to keep warm.

Meanwhile, remove the pot from the heat and use an immersion blender to puree the chowder until smooth. (Alternatively, you could transfer the soup to your blender in batches and do this too – just be careful blending hot liquid! Return to the pot once smooth.) Once the chowder has been pureed, set the pot back over medium heat, and stir in the potatoes and hominy. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Return the chicken to the pot and stir in the heavy cream too. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the adobo sauce, tomato, parsley, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Serve bowls of the chowder with lime wedges.

Serves 8