Last night was date night with that fellow up there. I woke up to Nick saying goodbye to me before he headed to the middle school he's working at while he gets his masters at the chilly hour of 6:45. I, in a sleep haze, told him to have a good day and Nick, wide awake, asked me on a date. It was nice. And I looked forward to it all day, which was also nice.
Because we try to live modestly, and save our pennies, we usually have drink or dessert dates, not full out meal dates. So, I made an extra special dinner. Extra special mostly for myself because I am the obsessive lover of 'Mexican' food. I call this South of the Border Caldo because of course, it is not by any means an authentic soup from any place. It is made up. But inspired by my very favorite soup at Agave, my very favorite 'Mexican' restaurant.
It was a delightfully spicy broth with tender pulled chicken, crunchy homemade corn tortilla chips, the zing of lime, chipotle, and cilantro, and the cool of fresh avocado and tomato. Maybe my favorite soup ever, and I will probably make it constantly throughout our brutal Maine winter. It warmed me up right down to my chilled toes.
It is also fantastically easy to make, thanks to my trusty crockpot.
South of the Border Caldo
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 small russet potato's
1/2 tbs olive oil
1/4 of a large onion (chopped fine)
7 cloves garlic (I really like garlic) (coarsely chopped)
2 tbs chopped scallion
1 tbs cilantro (finely chopped)
1 tbs parsley (finely chopped)
six(ish) cups of chicken broth
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
A good amount of salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon chipotle sauce (from a can)
1 fresh avocado
3 small corn tortillas
oil for frying
So, take your chopped up onions, garlic, and scallions and saute them in the 1/2 tbs of olive oil. Chop up the potato's into small chunks, and put them in the crock pot. When the veggies are a little bit brown and all cooked down, add them to the crock pot. Put in the two chicken breasts, squeeze the two limes, throw in the cilantro and parsley, and pour in the broth. Add all the spices, the salt and pepper and finish off with the little bit of chipotle sauce. Cook it on high for 2-3 hours then turn it to low and cook for another 3-4 hours. I started it in the morning (when I do all my cooking, mostly) so that it was done when I got home from work at 7:30.
When you come home, remove the gross looking cilantro and parsley which will all be floating on top of the broth with a mesh sieve. Toss it. Then take out the incredibly tender chicken and shred it up.
Then, slice your avocado, tomato, scallions, and lime to make the toppings bar.
Slice the corn tortillas up into chip-size pieces, and heat the oil in a wok or deep frying pan. Fry the tortillas till they are bubbly and brown. While they're still hot, sprinkle some salt on them.
Then, put the chicken in a bowl, pour a hearty portion of broth over it and add all the toppings your heart desires. I am not typically a huge avocado fan, but I loved them in this soup-- also, I added a sprinkling of cheddar cheese to mine, because I live on the wild side.
After our delicious soup dinner, Nick and I walked to a little bar/restaurant in our tiny downtown. I had a insanely tasty caramel apple martini and we split a decadently delicious flourless chocolate torte. It was so wonderful to sit with him at the warm bar, and just be with each other, talking about anything that came to our minds. I am blessed, and I love this man so much.
The only person who didn't have a good evening was Lupe because she couldn't come on the date (which upset her) and we wouldn't even let her wash the dishes. With her tongue. Which she offered to do. But it's impossible to make everyone happy.