It will come as no huge shock that growing up in Texas and then living in California for more than a decade left me somewhat of a Mexican food fanatic. I love Mexican food in all its forms — the cheesy, red sauce combo plates of the TexMex I ate growing up; street tacos made from off-cuts of meat like lengua; sophisticated, rich moles from Oaxaca…I could go on and on. As a kid, I went through a phase where all I wanted to eat at Mexican restaurants was enchiladas suizas, which ironically enough, are named after Swiss immigrants. I loved the tanginess of the dish’s verde (or “green”) sauce combined with the creaminess of white sauce and sour cream, and it remains one of my favorite enchilada dishes.
I wanted to make something in our slow cooker a couple weekends ago, and of course turned to one of our standbys: chili. It’s easy, hearty, and makes for a great lunch the next day. But feeling a bit sick of our usual tomato based version, I decided to try a “green” version, reliant on store-bought green chile enchilada sauce. The end result? Something that tastes similar to enchiladas suizas, minus the tortillas, and in chili form. It’s the most amazing, zesty soup on a cold winter day. Joe and I can both handle pretty spicy food, so mine has lots of chiles in it; if you’re sensitive, omit the jalapenos, and look for the mild version of the diced green chiles.
Here’s how to make it (luckily, the slow cooker makes this one REALLY simple):
Chicken Suiza Chili (for a slow cooker or Crock Pot)
Easily serves 4-6, depending on how hungry everyone is
1 (one) 4 oz can diced green chiles (Hatch brand is good)
1 (one) 15oz can green chile enchilada sauce
1 large yellow onion
1 15 oz can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
4 tomatillos, husked, rinsed and quartered
2 jalapenos, stems cut off and diced into quarter moons (remove seeds if you want it less spicy)
1 poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
1 anaheim chile, stemmed, seeded, and diced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1 quart chicken stock
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano (use regular dried oregano if you can’t find Mexican oregano)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, left whole
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 bunch of spinach, stems trimmed, thoroughly washed, and roughly chopped
1 – 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
Garnishes: shredded cheese, cilantro, red onion, sour cream (a must!), tortilla chips, hot sauce, etc. Sorry my photos don’t have any of this except cheese…I shot these the day after we made the soup, and all our garnishes were gone!
Combine all the ingredients except for the spinach, chicken and the garnishes in your slow cooker. I have a 4 quart slow cooker, and that perfectly fit everything, so anything 4 quarts and larger will work great. Cook on high for 3 hours. After 3 hours, add in the chicken breasts whole and cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, add in the chopped spinach, and cook for another 30 minutes. By this point all the vegetables should be very soft, and the broth fragrant and flavorful. Taste and adjust for seasoning as needed.
Remove the chicken breasts from the chili, and dice or shred to your desired size. Add back to the chili.
Spoon the chili into bowls, then garnish with your favorite toppings. I highly recommend a big dollop of sour cream and some cheese — it makes it the most similar to enchiladas suizas!
Image Credits: Victoria McGinley for vmac+cheese