The kids were coming over for Sunday Dinner and we hadn’t been grocery shopping.   I suggested that we make soup.   Rather than make rolls, we chose a tortilla soup, a white chicken chili.  The kids—they’re grown– could add tortilla chips to the soup or eat them on the side.  The chicken breasts could come from the freezer.

Keilli Tracy, who works in our test kitchen, made an excellent white chicken chili one day at work.  Merri Ann texted her to get the recipe.

White Chili Chicken Soup Recipe

Here’s Kelli’s excellent recipe for chicken soup.

1 cup chopped onion (or 1/4 cup dehydrated onions)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
(3) 15 1/2 ounce cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed
(2) 4 ounce cans diced green chile peppers
4 cups chicken broth
3 cups chopped chicken (3 10 oz cans chicken plus use the water as part of broth)
2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
sour cream

In your crockpot, place all ingredients but the cheese and sour cream. Cook on the low heat setting for 7 or 8 hours or on the high heat setting 3 1/2 -4 hours. Stir in cheese until melted. Serve with sour cream.

One of the nice things about soup is that you can add what you want and craft the recipe as you wish.  We made the following changes to the recipe:

  1. Merri Ann added a can of corn to ours.
  2. While Kelli used canned chicken, Merri Ann thawed and cubed chicken breasts from the freezer.   Kelli made her soup with canned beans.
  3. We made ours with a bean blend from our store, New England Soup Bean Blend.
  4. We omitted the grated cheese.
  5. Since we were going to add another spice blend, we omitted the cumin, oregano, and red pepper.

See the New England Soup Bean Blend »

How to Choose the Right Seasoning

When the soup was done, it was time to choose the seasoning.  We wanted a seasoning that we would both enjoy and a seasoning that would not overwhelm the soup but providing a complimentary background flavor.  I pulled several blends from the cupboard:

• Gresham and Meyers Poultry Seasoning
• Teeny Tiny Spice Vindaloo
• Teeny Tiny Spice Citrus Pepper
• Teeny Tiny Spice Ras el Hanout
• Teeny Tiny Spice Za’atar

I put a couple of tablespoons of the soup in small bowls.  To each I added a small sifting of spice, just a pinch between my thumb and forefinger.  We tasted each until we found the blend that we liked for that soup.  (Surprisingly, it was Citrus Pepper blend from Teeny Tiny.)  Then I added a tablespoon to the crockpot and tasted it for intensity.  I added more, a teaspoon at a time, until I had the right intensity.

Every bit of the soup was eaten.

This method works particularly well for soups but can be used for other foods where you can stir in the spices after the food is cooked.  I like it because I can negotiate both the type of spice and the amount and get exactly what I want (or my wife wants).  Even better, my wife and I can spice our soup separately, choosing the spice that we personally like.

For most dishes, you can add spices after it cooks.  I those cases where you want the spices to cook with the dish, add the spice early but go light.  If you don’t have enough spice, you can add more later.

Unless you have big pieces of food, there is no reason to add the spices early.  Even with big pieces of food, unless the food is quite porous, the spices will not penetrate deeply.

Be bold and experiment.  Invest in an assortment of spice blends from mild to bold, and keep trying the spices until you find just what you want.  Consider international spices.  Teeny Tiny has done an excellent job of choosing spices from around the world.

Explore these spices and spice blends.  You’ll be amazed at the selection »  


Soup and Sandwiches in the Store

Last Saturday, we served free soup and sandwiches in the store.  We set out 30 spices and let folks spice their own soup, a little at a time, coming back for more soup as they explored new spices.  It was a blast.  What it illustrated was that you can let each family member spice the food as desired.

Here is the recipe we used in the store.


If you would like more chicken soup recipes,

Get The Chicken Soup Collection, a FREE E-Book »


White Chili Chicken Soup Recipe

1 cup chopped onion (or 1/4 cup dehydrated onions)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups dry beans, New England Blend or equal
6 cups chicken broth
3 cups chopped chicken (3 10 oz cans chicken plus use the water as part of broth) or equal in cooked chicken meat seasoning to taste
2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
sour cream

To cook the beans, use the quick cook method rather than an overnight soak.  Place the beans in large pot with 6 to 8 cups of water.  Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for two minutes.  Turn the heat off, cover, and let soak in the hot water for an hour.  Drain the water.

To cook the soup, add 6 to 8 cups of water and cook the beans until they are soft, about an hour.  Drain the water.

Add the onion, garlic, chicken meat, and broth and cook for about 1/2 hour.  Season with salt if necessary and the seasoning blend of your choice.  We make this with blends from Teeny Tiny Spice Company of Vermont and use about two tablespoons–but add some, taste it, and add more.  Some spice blends have salt added so be cautious with blends that contain salt.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of shredded cheese if desired.

This soup can be made with a slow cooker and with fresh chicken.