Mexican Chicken, Greens and Beans Soup With Masa Dumplings

Serves 6.

Note: Although this soup requires a few steps, they are all easy to do and the result is an ultra-flavorful, hearty soup. The little masa dumplings are satisfyingly dense and full of corn flavor. For an easy version, eliminate the dumplings and serve warm corn tortillas with the soup. Pasilla chiles are dried and can be found in most supermarkets; find them wherever dried chiles are sold, often in the produce department. Masa harina is a type of corn flour used to make tortillas. Look for it in the ethnic or baking aisles of your grocery store. From Meredith Deeds.

• 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs

• 1 1/4 tsp. salt, divided

• 1/4 tsp. pepper

• 3 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided

• 1 large onion, sliced

• 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

• 4 c. low-sodium chicken broth

• 3 dried pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded and deveined (see Note)

• 2 1/2 c. hot water, divided

• 1 (14.5-oz.) can whole San Marzano tomatoes, including juices

• 2 (15-oz.) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed

• 1 1/3 c. masa harina (see Note)

• 1/4 tsp. baking powder

• 5 oz. fresh baby spinach or chopped Swiss chard

• 1/2 c. crumbled Mexican queso fresco or shredded Monterey Jack

• 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced

• Fresh cilantro leaves and lime wedges, for garnish

Directions

Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

In a 5-quart Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook 4 to 6 minutes, turning once, until browned. Transfer to a plate.

Add the onion to the hot Dutch oven and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Lower the heat to medium and add the garlic. Continue to cook, stirring, for 5 to 7 minutes or until the onions and garlic are golden brown.

Place the chicken back in the Dutch oven with the onions, add the broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes, turning the chicken over once if it’s not submerged in the broth, until the chicken is just cooked. Remove from heat, letting the chicken sit in the broth for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat. Open the dried chiles and lay them flat in the skillet. Press down on them with a spatula so they stay flat. Toast for 30 seconds on one side. Turn and toast for another 30 seconds to 1 minute or until the chiles are fragrant and lightly browned in spots. Place in a bowl and cover with 1 1/2 cups hot water. Let sit for 10 minutes or until softened.

Transfer the chicken from the broth to a plate and shred into bite-size pieces.

Add the chiles with the water to a blender, along with the tomatoes and the cooking liquid from the chicken, and with the onions and garlic. Blend until smooth. (At this point, the liquids should not be hot, but if they are, only fill the blender halfway, remove the center plastic insert and cover with a dish towel to prevent splattering.) Put the mixture back into the Dutch oven and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the beans, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the masa harina in a medium bowl. Add the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and baking powder. Stir to combine. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and remaining 1 cup hot water. Stir until the mixture forms a soft dough. If the dough seems dry, add another tablespoon or two of water. Cover the dough with a wet paper towel.

To shape the dumplings, transfer 1/4 of the dough to a work surface and roll into a log that is 1 inch in diameter. Cut the dough into 1/2-inch pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and use your finger to make an indentation in the center. Place on a plate and cover with another damp paper towel to prevent the dumplings from drying out. Repeat with remaining dough.

Gently stir the dumplings into the broth. and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the dumplings are firm and cooked through. Stir the spinach and shredded chicken into the soup, being careful not to break up the dumplings. Cook for another minute or two until the spinach has wilted.

Ladle the soup into serving bowls and garnish with the cheese, avocado, cilantro and lime wedges.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 490 Fat 19 g Sodium 1,110 mg

Carbohydrates 52 g Saturated fat 4 g Total sugars 6 g

Protein 33 g Cholesterol 80 mg Dietary fiber 12 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 3 starch, 3 lean protein, 2 fat.