I live in a house full of picky eaters. Two love vegetables and one doesn’t. One refuses to eat most Mexican dishes and another one doesn’t love Italian. One kid will happily eat a plate full of meat; one is a vegetarian.
This means that aside from kid-friendly (and nutritiously bereft) choices like chicken nuggets, cheese pizza, or macaroni and cheese, there are about four meals I can make that no one complains about.
I’m not sure how this happened, as I’m not a mom who generally cooks around everyone’s idiosyncratic culinary ideals; if they like it, they can eat, if not they can try again tomorrow. (This generally-approved childrearing approach to de-picky-ing kids has done basically nothing to encourage mine to try different foods.)
Sometimes dinner is frustrating at our house.
So I was more than a little interested in the premise behind Katie Workman’s cookbook, Dinner Solved. She starts with some fresh twists on sturdy, family-friendly meals, but includes several different “fork in the road” ideas to make a meal that will please everyone. Some of the ideas are simple—just leave out the mushrooms for that one anti-fungi among you. Others are more complicated—follow the basic steps, but then split at a certain point to eliminate the usual picky-eater problems. The result is a meal that no one complains about, which is a big win for me and my family.
I loved several recipes in this book, but one that came together really quickly was the Mexican Tortilla Chicken Soup. I followed the recipe almost exactly, only modifying it to make it bigger (two teenage sons can eat a lot!) and to add the cream at the end, which I think takes this from pretty delicious to extraordinary. (If, OK, a little bit more fattening. But all the happiness over no one complaining burns away those extra few calories anyway!)
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 ½ t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
1 t chile powder
1 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper, to taste
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 ½ pounds)
Canola or vegetable oil, for panfrying
6 corn tortillas, halved and cut crosswise into thin strips
juice of 1 lime
½ cup heavy cream
Heat the olive oil over medium heat; add the onions and garlic, and sauté until tender and golden. Stir in the cumin, coriander, and chili powder and cook for 1 more minute. Add the tomatoes and chicken broth, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer over high heat. Add the chicken breasts and lower heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and let cool. Keep the soup gently simmering (but not boiling).
Pour the canola oil to about 1 inch in to a skilled, and heat over medium-high heat. Line a plate with a couple of paper towels. When the oil is hot, add the tortilla strips in small batches; fry, stirring often, until they are crisp and just barely golden. Remove to the paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Shred the cooled chicken. Stir it, the lime juice, and the heavy cream into the soup.
Serve with the fried tortilla strips, avocados, shredded Monterey jack and cheddar cheeses, salsa, and sour cream.