When you have a little time one cold afternoon, try this soul-warming soup and open a bottle of Rezzadore Pinot Grigio, a very light orange wine.
Orange wine is made using white grapes, but it can appear pink, rusty, or medium brown—“orange” is a bit of a stretch to describe the color. The color comes from the light pigments in the grape skins. Pinot Grigio is a favorite for making orange wine because the skins are actually pinkish, not green or gold, as with other white grapes. This means that, during orange winemaking, when the skins and juice are soaked together for a prolonged period, the color leaches into the juice, along with extra flavor compounds. Orange wines often have light oxidation as well—and many of them taste downright funky. The Rezzadore is an intro to orange: light in color and mild in flavor, it will remind you of a slightly souped up Pinot Grigio, or even a rosé. (You noticed that pun, right?)
Here, the slight oxidation of the wine ties together the tomato and cumin in the soup and makes all the cornmeal elements taste earthier.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
1½ teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup diced onion
¼ cup diced green bell pepper
¼ cup diced red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (10 oz.) Rotel tomatoes and green chilies
32 ounces low-sodium chicken stock
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
3 tablespoons cornmeal
Sour cream, diced avocado, diced red onion, grated jack cheese, or cilantro for garnish (optional)
Tortilla chips, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a small bowl, combine the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on the chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small amount of spice mix on both sides. Set aside the rest of the spice mix.
Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until there is no pink juice inside when cut in the thickest part of the breast. Use two forks to shred the chicken. Set it aside.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, green and red pepper, and garlic. Stir for a minute, then add the remaining spice mix. Stir to combine, then stir in the shredded chicken.
Add the Rotel tomatoes, chicken stock, tomato paste, corn, and 3 cups hot water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.
Mix the cornmeal with 1/3 cup water and add it to the soup. Simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Check the seasonings and adjust to taste (add more chili powder if you like more spice). Turn off the heat and allow the soup to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Serve topped with any of the optional garnishes, and crush a few tortilla chips over the top.