By MELISSA D’ARABIAN
I owe the idea to well-meaning fans, who over the years would approach me to thank me for the genius of making 10-minute meals. I never had the heart to correct them: I hosted Ten Dollar Dinners. Ten-minute meals, I always mused, would be about a thousand versions of PB&J, which sounded like hard television to pitch to my producer. But the idea marinated. And then it became a challenge: What could I make in 10 minutes that wouldn’t be a PB&J? (No disrespect to the sandwich anthem of my childhood.)
While most of my recipes are weeknight-friendly — that’s simply how I cook with four kiddos to feed before the activity flurry — I decided to create recipes that were extra quick for those nights when even a half-hour seems impossible to find.
Today’s recipe is one of the dinners that came from this project. My 10-Minute Tortilla Soup is filling comfort food that I feel good about serving my family. It’s simple but tasty, and my kids love it.
I’ll caveat the 10 minutes by saying that the dinner does take advantage of some prepared items, such as purchased salsa, canned black beans and leftover chicken. But these items are healthy pantry staples that you probably have on hand, and they have a long shelf life, including the chicken: Freezing up chicken leftovers or rotisserie chicken for weeknight dinners is an excellent habit for weeknight cooks anyway. And, the recipe is pretty flexible. Skip the cheese and add avocado cubes if you prefer, or if that’s what you have on hand. Use ground beef instead of chicken. Or even Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. Make it spicy or mild. However you choose, I promise you this: It will be quick.