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The Ancient Dietary Story of Corn and SH&W’s Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Corn has been a dietary staple through history, and its success has been thanks to the ancient science and practice of nixtamalization. The origin of this ancient practice is unknown but seems to have risen form the birthplace of corn cultivation, Mesoamerica. The nixtamalization process uses an alkaline substance like slaked lime (Calcium Hydroxide) to convert corn’s hemicellulose-bound niacin into free niacin, and thus increasing its bioavailability, along with boosting levels of available calcium, iron, copper, and zinc. The name nixtamalization actually derives from the Aztec word “Nahuatl,” which is a compound of the words for lime ash and corn dough.  Without employing this process, a subsistence diet relying on corn is likely not a sufficient source of niacin, and may lead to health conditions without further supplementation. The process of nixtamalization has even been shown to act like an antidote to toxins from corn infected with Fusarium verticillioides and Fusarium proliferatum, which are molds that commonly infect corn and can lead to health issues, and may be an important step in detoxifying our foods that are based from corn.

Our featured recipe, SH&W’s Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup is a perfect way to use the last few leftover tortillas that have gone stale.  To make some tortillas stale, just leave them in an open container in the fridge to dry for a few days.  Set some aside corn tortillas today and get ready to enjoy this hearty spicy southwest style recipe.

SH&W’s Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

4 Cups Chicken Stock
3-4 Stale Tortillas (Broken into pieces)
1lb. Chicken Thighs or Breasts (Chopped)
2 Cups White Navy Beans (Dried)
1 Cup Canned Tomatoes (Diced)
1 Large Onion (Diced)
2 Serrano Peppers (Minced)
1/2 Bunch Cilantro (Minced)
1 Tbsp. Honey
2 Tbsp. Onion Powder
1 Tbsp. Cardamom Powder
1 Tbsp. Cooking Oil (Avocado Preferred)
1/2 Tbsp. Ground Cumin
3 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp. Ground Turmeric
1 Bay Leaf (Whole)
1 Tbsp. Sea Salt or to taste

Soak navy beans overnight in clean water. Drain and set aside.

In a large pressure cooker of soup pot, sauté the onion, with the turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, and cumin until the onions begin to appear translucent.

Add the bay leaf and serrano peppers, and sauté for 1 minute.

Add chicken, chicken stock, navy beans, tomatoes, onion powder, and half the cilantro.

Cook in your pressure cooker on high pressure for 30 minutes, or if using a soup pot simmer covered for 2 hours.

If using a pressure cooker, after the 30 minutes under pressure, add the stale tortilla pieces and cook for 1 additional minute on high pressure. If using a soup pot simmer for 10 additional minutes.

Add honey and remaining cilantro.

Serve hot on the side of a quesadilla or with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt on top.