*updated 06 March 2013*
I've only been meaning to blog this recipe for a month now, but it's so good I keep forgetting to take a photo until it's all gone!
Sorry, no real process photos, but it's really simple! Here's a general list of what you'll need:
1.5-2 lbs chicken breasts (or thighs)
1 small onion, chopped
3-4 big cloves of garlic, minced and crushed into paste
2 12-16 oz bags of Southwest Mix frozen veggies (the one I love is by Birdseye...use what you like)
2 cans of Rotel (Original)
1/2 cup of white rice
1/4 cup sour cream
1-2 teaspoons of chicken base (I like Better Than Bouillon, but you can use a couple bouillon cubes or substitute a can of stock or leave it out entirely, that's fine too....)
2 tablespoons of your favorite taco or fajita seasoning--I love the one over at Give Peas A Chance, as I've said before....but you can use McCormick if you'd prefer...no one will tell.
seasoning to taste (I use salt & pepper, garlic and onion powders, chile powder, lots of cayenne pepper...Montreal Seasoning works well, too)
Start out with a couple tablespoons of oil in a heavy bottom soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Toss in the onion and garlic paste and cook till the onions are translucent. Cut the chicken into 1/2" cubes and toss it in with the onion and garlic, and then use your misc. seasonings to season the chicken before turning the heat up to high and browning it a bit. Toss in the fajita seasoning and the chicken base, both cans of Rotel, the rice and the bags of veggies, and add about 2 quarts of water (enough to top off the pot). Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat and cover and let it simmer for 20 mins or so (I know this seems like a long time for those of us who prefer their rice a little firm...but I think soft is better for this....so use your judgment). At the end, mix in the sour cream (I *HATE* sour cream straight up....but I still put it in this. It adds a little something and it doesn't make everything taste like sour cream, I promise!).
Spoon out the "good stuff" into a bowl with a slotted spoon, and then use a ladle or a measuring cup to pour the broth over the top of it--this way everyone gets their preferred "stuff to broth ratio." haha!!
Top with shredded cheese (cheddar...must...have...cheddar....monterey jack is good, too, but you simply MUST use cheddar, too! LOL!), more sour cream for those who like it, and tortilla strips or Fritos! I usually add shredded lettuce and chopped tomato and onion to the top as well.
Voila! Tortilla soup.