Spicy soup and muffins will cheer you up during flu season

Raspberry lemon corn muffins (Photo by Teri Robl)

Raspberry lemon corn muffins (Photo by Teri Robl)

The influenza bug hit the Other fisherman and I hard this last week. I don’t think I have ever spent so many days feeling like a wet noodle just sitting in my chair.

Don’t even try to guess how many hundreds of tissues we went through. The worst part about being sick is not being able to love on my little grandson Kase.

One evening I rallied a bit and donned my apron. I wanted soup and thought chicken tortilla soup sounded yummy. While my poor sick hubby watched a Star Trek episode, I roasted a nice little chicken. It filled the house with a wonderful aroma that I could miraculously smell, and I had plenty of homemade broth and tender, flavorful meat for the soup. I was hoping it had magical curative powers.

For the chicken in this soup, you can use pieces, a purchased rotisserie bird from the deli, or roast an entire chicken as I did, to have homemade broth and meat for your recipe. This recipe has directions for roasting pieces of chicken.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Serves 8

2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, or a combination of the two

1 Tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons ground cumin

3 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can (10 Oz. Can) Rotel Tomatoes and Green Chilies or

1 can (10 oz. can) of diced tomatoes and 1 small can of green chilies

2 boxes (32 ounces each) low sodium chicken broth – 8 cups total

3 Tablespoons tomato paste

2 cans (15 oz. can) black beans, drained

3 Tablespoons cornmeal

5 whole corn tortillas, cut into uniform size strips about 2 inches long and 1 inch wide and deep fried in hot oil and drained on paper towels or just pass ready-made chips in a pinch.

GARNISHES:

sour cream

diced avocado

green onion slices

grated cheese, such as Monterey jack or Colby

lime wedges

cilantro

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cumin, chili pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small amount of spice mix on both sides. Set aside the rest of the spice mix.

Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Use two forks to shred chicken or cut into small pieces. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions and minced garlic. Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix. Stir to combine, then add chicken and stir.

Pour in the Rotel or tomatoes and green chilies, chicken broth, tomato paste and black beans. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered.

Mix 3 tablespoons cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 20 minutes. Taste for seasonings, adding more if needed, more chili powder if it needs more spice and salt perhaps. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Ladle soup into bowls, then pass the goodies for topping. Add a dollop of sour cream, a few diced green onions, diced avocado pieces, grated cheese and squeeze a wedge of lime over your bowl of deliciousness then sprinkle some fried tortilla strips on top, as the garnishes really make the soup delicious and fun to eat!

I was on a roll after making the soup and had been wanting to try a muffin recipe with raspberries, which we can get fresh all year around now. These muffins were very tasty little gems I will make again. The buttermilk and honey in the batter make these muffins extra tender and delicious. The raspberries and lemon zest perfectly complement each other. They are also quick and easy to make.

Raspberry and Lemon Corn Muffins

Makes 18 standard size muffins

Pre-heat oven 400 degrees

In a medium- size bowl mix dry ingredients:

1 cup cornmeal

1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated white sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

In another medium-size bowl mix wet ingredients:

2 large eggs

¾ cup buttermilk – or substitute ¾ cup milk mixed with1 teaspoon lemon juice and let sit a bit until the milk curdles

1 ½ sticks melted butter

3 tablespoons honey

1 ½ tablespoons lemon zest

1 ½ cups raspberries

(toss gently in about 2 tablespoons flour) this helps them from sinking to the bottom of the muffin

If you use frozen berries, drain them well and omit tossing in flour.

Directions:

Mix dry ingredients together in bowl.

In another bowl whisk eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, honey and lemon zest.

Stir dry mixture into wet mixture gently until evenly combined, do not over mix.

Fold in raspberries gently.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full of batter.

Bake in 400-degree oven approximately 20 minutes, until bamboo skewers or toothpick come out clean. Let cool in pans 10 minutes before removing.

My wish is for no one to get this nasty bug so you can have fun in your kitchens and outdoors in the sunshine.

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