November 21, 2009

Easy Cheesey Chili Mac Soup

Nothing says hello autumn better than a piping bowl of chili...or soup. Well I guess there are the falling leaves, dropping temperatures and shorter days, but chili shows it too. Seeing as how I like both chili and soup with equal adoration (ok I like soup better, but don't tell chili, promise?) I decided what would be better than to throw the two together. Wait, it gets even better, there's cheese! I know, it's great.

I have this philosophy that anything involving tons of melty cheese has to be at least half good. So a recipe that calls for one and a half cups of cheddar gets a swift shove to the top of the to-cook pile (yea I really do have one). I guess the thing with it is that you actually have to look at it if you wanna knock it down a bit, which means enough magazine tear-outs and epicurious bookmarks - at least for a little while. This recipe, although towards the top of my list, has been neglected since February...I know, poor thing. With my chili-soup cravings this week I dug it out and tacked it on the no-more-excuses board (no I don't really have one of these, but sounds like a good idea...). I don't know why I waited so long to test out such a promising recipe.

This soup quickly became a favorite with my taste-testers for many reasons. It's quick and easy, it's hearty and filling and my husband actually finished his bowl - winner! I also liked how the amount of chili is enough to announce its presence but doesn't leave a burning track through your nasal passages. It's also very customizable, I used ground chicken instead of beef, added tomatoes, used half milk/half cream...see tons of wiggle room. Oooo and it only used one large pot, a cutting board and a knife (a couple of measuring spoons if you're not the eyeball it type) and who doesn't love that?!

So if you're cuddling under two layers of sweaters and your super thick socks and nothing else will warm you like a bowl of soup (or chili) then break out the pot and get cookin' mama.

Cheddar Chili Soup (very loosely based on Redbook Magazine, February 2009)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 lb ground chicken (or beef...or turkey)
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/4 C milk
1 1/4 C heavy cream (you can use all milk if you prefer. I was afraid of it being too thin, but think you'll be fine once it thickens)
1-14.5 oz can of low sodium chicken broth
1-10.75 oz can condensed cream of cheddar soup
8 oz elbow macaroni
1-14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes (I used Del Monte's No Salt Added)
1 1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Heat oil in a 5 quart pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add ground chicken to the pot and cook, breaking it apart, about 5 min or until no longer pink. Add the chili and cumin and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes.

Add milk, cream, broth and soup, stirring until the soup is completely incorporated. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 3 minutes. Stir in the pasta and tomatoes, cover and continue to cook for 5 minutes.

Add the cheese to the pot all at once and stir until melted and creamy. Let stand about 5 more minutes or until the pasta is completely cooked. Serve hot and enjoy!

Tomato Soup Chili on Foodista

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