Some meals have the capability to transport you immediately back in time and/or bring the memory of someone back to life in such vivid detail that you would think he or she is standing right in front of you. This is one of those. Every Friday night before my brothers played in their high school football games, my mom would have a pot of this soup cooking slowly on the stove. The aromas filled our house and whetted our appetites. Combined with the cooler air and the excitement of a big match-up, this soup became a quintessential, defining element of Fall and football for all of us.
Hence the name, football soup. Without my mother here to give more detail, I vaguely recall that the original recipe was inspired by one from Southern Living titled something along the lines of "Tortilla-Corn Soup." Looking at the worn, clipped recipe tucked in one of Mom's book, I see that it requires lots of canned food and processed ingredients we're trying to use less of these days.
Mom made some tweaks to it to make it her own, and of course, I've made a few more on top of hers. My version calls for homemade chicken stock and local, organic veggies we picked up from our CSA. I think she would have loved the adjustments I made to her recipe.
It is a flavorful, aromatic, hearty, and spicy chicken soup. You could simmer it on the stove or even let it thicken in a crock pot. Not just for Friday night fuel, it's also perfect on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon while watching football, of course! Add some ice cold Highland beers, and you've got it made.
So, do as we do - invite some friends over, open the windows, feel the crisp autumn air, hear the laughter from the kids running in the yard, put on a good football game, sip on a steaming hot bowl of football soup, and cool it down with a tasty beer... it is heaven.
The soup is the centerpiece of this routine, and it has become somewhat of a Fall ritual in our family. It is something I look forward to all year.
Every so often I find myself in the middle of it, and I can't help but feel overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. I know I am not alone, I feel my mother's spirit with me every time. In some strange way, she comes back to life, even for a minute, as we enjoy this soup, this tradition.
It is now a part of my family, and I hope it will be a part of my children's families as well. These are the kinds of recipes that aren't just food - they are so much more. From our family to yours, enjoy. Here's to you, Mom.
- 5 cups of chicken stock
- 2 cups of diced bell (sweet) peppers. I used red, green, yellow, and orange
- 1 cup of water
- 2 cups peeled, cored, and roughly diced tomatoes (I used the Arkansas traveler tomatoes from our CSA), you could use canned diced tomatoes here if you wish, just drain the juice before adding to your soup
- 1 1/2 cups of fresh sweet corn, about 3 ears cut off the cob
- 1-2 red Serrano peppers*, seeded and finely diced
- 3 cups of cooked and shredded chicken (I used a combination of white and dark meat)
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 2 Tablespoons chili powder** (NOT chili seasoning - you want just the dried ground up chilies, not the other stuff)
- 1/2 Tablespoon dried oregano**
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin**
- juice from 1/2 a lime (taste the soup before serving, add the juice from the other half of the lime if desired)
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
*If you don't like spicy food, eliminate the Serrano peppers from the recipe.
**It is important to use organic spices, because regular ones are irradiated, causing them to loose all nutritional benefits.
Prepare your chicken stock [or open the box(es) of organic chicken stock you bought], and pour it into a crock pot or large pot on the stove. Add 1 cup of water. Now add in the bell pepper, corn, tomatoes, onion, chicken, and spices with juice from 1/2 a lime.
Let simmer on the stove for about an hour or so, stirring every once and a while. Tasting your soup along the way to make sure the veggies have reached your desired consistency. If you're using a crock pot (which I love to do!) let it simmer for at least 2 hours, up to 5.
Top your football soup with sliced avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, and maybe a dollop of sour cream. Tortilla chips or Fritos (this takes a little bit of the organic & local out of it though) are a pretty solid addition as well. Whatever you want!
Anyone have a clever idea on shipping this soup? I'm reading up on canning because I'd love to mail some to my brothers, who live scattered across the country (one in L.A., one in NY, and one in D.C.). Any good soup canning books? Canning is a totally new concept to me!
Cheers, Go Heels, and Go Gamecocks!