Protein is one of the most vital nutrients you can consume. We hear a lot about protein in the media in regards to weight loss and muscle building. But did you know that your body is made up of protein, including your hair, skin, tissues, bones, and even the chemical messengers in your brain? Without adequate protein, which your body breaks down into smaller components called amino acids, you would not have the necessary building blocks to form serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine, etc., the neurotransmitters in your brain. Your mood and cognitive ability would be impaired and you could have difficulty focusing, remembering things, and your mood could be affected, contributing to depression and anxiety.
The following recipe is a flavor-packed southwest soup that combines both protein (from chicken) and vegetables, which we all know are good for our health. In addition, this recipe includes several peppers which may help boost your metabolism; and garlic and lime, which have antimicrobial, cleansing properties. This recipe is a great alternative to MSG, sodium, processed oil-laden versions of soup or south-of-the-border dishes you might find at restaurants, in the frozen section of the grocery store, or dish at a home party.
Southwest Chicken Soup
prep time: 15 mins cook time: 15 mins serves: 4
- 6 organic corn tortillas (6-in), cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- Pinch of salt, plus 1/4 teaspoon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 oz boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in 1/4-in pieces
- 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can (14 ounces) petite-cut diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 can (14 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 4 lime wedges
Step 1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Step 2. Place tortilla strips on a baking sheet, coat with cooking spray, and sprinkle with chili powder and pinch of salt. Bake until crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Step 3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sauté chicken thigh pieces until lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Add bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, onion, and garlic, and cook until onions are tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook 1 minute.
Step 4. Add broth, water, cumin, oregano, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt to pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Divide soup among bowls and top with tortilla strips, cheese, and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing.
Tip: The chile-flavored baked corn tortilla strips make this soup especially good. But in a pinch, you could substitute store-bought tortilla chips.