But first, fun fact: My dog Trudy (also known as Trudydog, Trudypup, Trudles McNoodles, and the light of my life) has heartworm.
Womp womp. Insofar as someone can become an expert on these types of things without actually being a veterinarian, I now know more about heartworm than I ever cared to. The gist of it is that as much damage as heartworms can do to a dog’s heart and lungs, the treatment can also prove fatal. There aren’t any really wonderful options and there’s no one universally accepted way to treat the disease. My heart feels almost as heavy typing this out as Trudypup’s probably does with all those disgusting, parasitic worms hanging out in her ticker.
The good news is that there’s no evidence of microfilaria (baby worms) and Trudy doesn’t appear to have a large “load” of worms (by the way, these are all terms I wish I was still unfamiliar with). The vet’s best guess is that she contracted heartworm while she was a stray pup and because she’s been on a heartworm preventative since we adopted her at about 6 months, we’ve at least kept the wormy little bastards at bay for the past year. That’s kind of the best/worst part — that there was absolutely nothing we could have done to prevent this.
Anyway, after an initial meltdown in the vet’s office and a few days spent openly weeping every time I looked at Trudy, I’m happy to report that I’ve finally pulled myself together. We’re going to continue to work with the vet to pursue the best treatment options and I am optimistic that Trudy will make a full recovery. She’s a tough little beast.
If you have any heartwarming heartworm recovery stories, I’d love to hear them!!
I’m not sure if there’s a great to segue from that news to today’s recipe. Nothing says appetizing like parasitic worms…
But we’re going to try because this is perhaps the best tortilla soup I’ve ever had. It’s thick and spicy with flavor so deep you’d swear it was cooking away for hours on the stove when it’s actually ready to go in about half an hour.
It’s all about the oven-roasted tomatoes. I know it’s January and beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to buying summer produce in the dead of winter, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly disappointed with the pink little rocks being passed off as tomatoes at the market this weekend.
With that said, I’m fairly confident you could improve anything by rubbing it down with enough olive oil and salt and baking the bajeezus out of it. It’s certainly the case with these tomatoes. They get all roasty, juicy, and sweet with their peels falling off.
And for all you fellow multi-taskers out there, this is our kind of recipe. You’ll roast the tomatoes and chicken in the oven while prepping the veggies. While the oven is working it’s magic on those lifeless looking January tomatoes, we’ll be cooking up the base for the soup. Then we add those sweet, roasty tomatoes to the broth and blend everything until it’s thick and creamy before adding in shredded chicken and some crushed tortilla chips.
If you’re not sold on spicy, just be sure to discard the seeds and ribs of the jalapeno. If you like your soup a little on the spicier side, go ahead an add some cayenne pepper or another jalapeno to the mix.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 5 medium tomatoes
- 3 teaspoons chili powder, divided
- 2 teaspoons cumin, divided
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, divided
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 small or 1 large yellow onion
- 5 stalks celery
- 1 red bell pepper
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 jalapeno pepper (discard seeds and ribs for a less spicy soup)
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- ½ cup crushed tortilla chips
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Quarter the tomatoes and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and black pepper. In a small container, mix together 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon paprika, the garlic powder, and about a half teaspoon of salt. Use another tablespoon of olive oil to rub into the chicken breasts followed by the spice mixture. Place the chicken on a baking sheet. Bake both the tomatoes and the chicken for 20-25 minutes or until the peels are coming off the tomatoes and the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 165 degrees F.
- While the chicken and tomatoes are in the oven, dice the onion, celery, and bell pepper. Mince the garlic and jalapeno pepper. Measure out and mix together the remaining chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika and set aside.
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Once shimmering, add the onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, jalapeno and about ¼ teaspoon of salt. Cook the veggies, stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes or until soft and transclucent. Add the spice mixture, broth, and lime juice. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 10 minutes.
- Once the tomatoes and chicken are done, remove from the oven. Add the tomatoes and any leftover juices from the baking sheet to the simmering soup. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, use two forks to shred it into pieces.
- Using an immersion or regular blender, puree the soup. Add the chicken and crushed tortilla chips and continue to cook for 5-10 more minutes.
- Serve with lime wedges, cilantro, avocado, pepperjack cheese, sour cream, and green onions.