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Premiere Issue > Yummy and Special Quick Soups

Yummy and Special Quick Soups  
Recipes reprinted with permission from Jane Butel’s Southwestern Kitchen 

Most any time, but especially in the cold months, spicy, full tasting stews, chowders and soups really hit the mark for lunch or simple dinners.  Generally soups take lots of time to develop the flavor.  Not so here.

The Chicken Tortilla Chowder is so wonderful; one of my assistants, Wendy, would make pots full of it when she wanted to control her weight and eat it nightly for dinner.  A bit boring for me, but she found it a good way to lose quick pounds.

The Chile Sparked Sweet Potato Soup is pretty enough for a picture and great tasting enough for company, when served with a crisp greens salad and crusty bread such as rosemary olive bread.

The Chipotle Teased Black Bean Pumpkin Soup is great, spicy fun and very quick to whip up.

Each of these soups can be made from ingredients you generally have on hand—each of them averages only 6 ingredients right from your shelves or pantry.  Each can be made in batches and frozen for even greater convenience.


The hearty, full flavor and creamy consistency of this chicken soup tastes like work, but this dish is actually fast and easy to make. Cutting the chicken breast is the most time-consuming part of the recipe. This is a versatile dish that you can vary in many ways. Instead of chicken breasts, you could use leftover roast chicken or turkey, firm-fleshed fish or shellfish with fish stock, roast beef, or ground chuck with beef stock.

Cooking Time: 10-12 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

1, 14 ½ oz. can chicken broth, preferably low sodium, with water added to make 2 cups
2 white or yellow corn tortillas, broken up
1 pound chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 scallions, thinly sliced (some reserved for garnish)
1 ½ tablespoons minced pickled jalapenos with juice

Optional Garnishes:
Cilantro leaves
Crushed red caribe chiles
Lime wedges

1. Place the chicken broth and water in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the tortillas and chicken. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring, for 5 to 6 minutes.

2. Add the scallions and jalapenos with juice. Stir to combine well. Simmer for approximately another 5 minutes. Serve garnished with the reserved scallion and, if desired, the cilantro, chiles, and lime to squeeze on the chowder.



This hearty soup is wonderful for lunch, served with just a crunch of baked tortilla shoestrings. Serve the soup with a sandwich for a light dinner. To make the shoestrings, see Tortilla Toasts.

Yield:  4 servings

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½” dice
4 scallions, thinly sliced (1 tablespoon sliced tops reserved for garnish)
1 cup evaporated skim milk
1 tablespoon ground pure hot red chile, or to taste
Few grates of fresh nutmeg
Baked tortilla shoestrings for garnish (optional)

1. Place the potatoes, scallions, and 1 cup water in a 2-quart glass or microwaveable plastic bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on full power for 10 minutes. Or, to cook conventionally, place the ingredients in a heavy, medium saucepan, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until fork-tender.

2. Transfer potato mixture to a food processor. Add the milk and 2 teaspoons of the chile and process until pureed. Stir in the nutmeg. Return to the 2-quart container and microwave for about 2 minutes, or until hot. Serve garnished with resrved chile and scallion.




The smoky heat of the chipotles adds a spark to the hearty goodness of black beans. Pumpkin or any winter squash is a wonderful complement to black beans. I make spicy black bean soup and butternut squash soup and puree each separately. To serve, I pour them simultaneously into each bowl. This one soup captures these twin flavors quickly and easily.

Yield: 2 large or 4 small servings

1 15-ounce can black beans, undrained
1 14 1/2 –ounce can chicken broth, preferably low sodium
1 cup onion, chopped (1 large onion)
½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder or 1 dried chipotle chile, reconstituted and minced
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
Optional garnishes: 2 tablespoons sour cream, 1 lime cut into wedges

1. In a heavy, 2-quart saucepan, combine the beans, broth, onion, chile, and pumpkin; bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the onion softens.

2. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and whirl until thick and smooth. Return to the pan and add 1 teaspoon of the cumin; taste to determine if you desire the remaining cumin or salt.

3. Serve in bowls. If desired, garnish with a squeeze of lime, a dollop of sour cream, and a sprig of cilantro.


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