It’s the middle of January and I’m totally feeling it, how about you?. It’s always the longest month for me and I know I’m not alone. Post-holiday hype, not yet hopeful for spring, feeling stuck and heavy, both physically and mentally. The first week might begin with new promises, determination, and, of course, kale, but by the next week focus is lost, the struggle sets in, and all I really want is a pastry with my morning coffee. At least I’ve been through it so many years I know it’s temporary.
The challenge is not giving in to total depression while cutting myself a bit of slack. The ever elusive balance between self-care and self-sabotage. It can look similar. For example, I believe staying in pajamas and giving in to a binge-watching session of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel while snacking on cinnamon toast and hot cocoa is positively medicinal if it’s deliberate and limited to once a season, maybe twice in winter. Obviously, if it’s more like once a week with a duration of more than a day, we’ve moved to the danger zone. I have found myself there more times than I care to admit, mostly in the years before kids but I’m happy to report I’m (relatively) safe these days and intend to stay that way.
I’ve learned I really do have to force myself to exercise every day, even if it’s just a quick walk, and that really helps. So do antidepressants, multi-vitamins, probiotics, and an arsenal of essential oils. That may sound like a lot but I recently crashed into menopause following a hysterectomy so I need all the assistance I can get. Also, I’m through with deprivation so instead of swearing off any food groups I’ve been adding in lots of vegetables, fruit, and drinking tons of water. I’m generally terrible at the water thing so it makes a big impact. Lastly, solidarity and conversation with amazingly cool women is a lifeline I employ frequently.
Healthy one-pot meals like this chicken and chickpea taco soup check all the boxes for nutrition while satisfying the whole family with great flavor. If you’re trying to keep it really clean, you can skip the toppings while you let the rest of the family go for it. You could skip the chicken too and use vegetable broth for a vegetarian or vegan meal. I used a large frozen organic chicken breast from Costco for this recipe because I love how easy they are to deal with. I just thawed it slightly in the microwave before coating it with spices.
Don’t worry, time flies so January will be over before we know it. Cut yourself some slack and enjoy!
Chicken and Chickpea Taco Soup
( 6 servings)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano flakes
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
12-14 ounce chicken breast, boneless & skinless (1 or 2 breasts, depending on size)
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, large dice
1 red or orange bell pepper, large dice
1 bay leaf
4 cloves garlic, minced
7 ounces canned green chiles (mild or hot), drained
15 ounces canned diced tomatoes, drained
29 ounces canned chickpeas/garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
24 ounces chicken stock or bone broth
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon dried parsley or cilantro (fresh is even better if you have it, triple the amount of dried)
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
freshly ground black pepper
grated cheddar cheese
crushed tortilla chips
Preheat a Dutch oven, large saucepan, or stock pot on medium-high heat.
*If you’re using a pressure cooker, like the Instant Pot, use the “Saute” setting.
In a small bowl, mix together the salt, oregano, cumin, paprika, and white pepper. Take a large pinch of the mixture (maybe 3/4 teaspoon) and rub on both sides of the chicken breast/breasts. Reserve the remaining spice mixture for later use.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to hot pan then place the chicken breast/breasts in the oil. Allow the chicken to saute until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, peel the onion and core the pepper then chop them both in pieces about 1 inch in size.
Remove the browned chicken from the pan and set aside. Don’t worry about it being cooked through, it will do that later.
Add the remaining olive oil to the pan along with the onions, peppers, bay leaf, and the remaining spice mixture. Saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally while you gather the remaining ingredients.
If you’ve purchased whole chiles, cut them into approximately 1-inch pieces before adding them to the onions and peppers.
Peel and mince the garlic cloves and add them to the softened, cooked vegetables along with the chicken breast. Drain the tomatoes and beans and add them at this time as well. Stir the vegetables and allow them to cook for about 3 minutes before adding the chicken stock/broth.
Bring the soup to a simmer on medium-high heat then cover the pan and turn down the heat to low. Cover and allow the soup to simmer for 30 minutes.
*For the Instant Pot, I would use the “Manual” setting and set it for 8 – 10 minutes then use natural release. Consult your intruction manual for optimum cooking time.
Remove the cover and shred or chop the chicken which will be cooked through by now. I took two forks and shredded it right in the pot but you can remove it, chop it, and return it if that’s your preference.
Remove the bay leaf.
Juice one lime and add the juice to the soup.
Add dried or fresh parsley/cilantro and crushed red pepper.
Allow the soup to cook for another 5 minutes or so before serving.
Garnish with your choice of toppings.
Rest intentionally and be well…
“Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength… it is wisdom to take occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less.”