Employee Soup Challenge
Fifteen Arbor Day Foundation employees brought their bubbling, steaming crock pots into work today for the 2011 Arbor Day Foundation Employee Soup Challenge. The culinary creations ranged from chicken and beef to veggie and mushroom, and all employees were encouraged to participate – either by entering a soup or by tasting and voting for their top three favorites.
And the winner is…
Congratulations to first place winner Alicia Kenealy, whose recipe for creamy chicken tortilla soup earned her $100 in cash and the honor of keeping the traveling trophy for the next year. Alicia said her recipe came from a friend who is a chef, noting that the secret ingredient is swiss cheese. Alicia is the assistant for the Lied Lodge sales team.
Two contestants tied for second place in the challenge. Susie Wirth, Nature Explore Outreach Director, and Susan Freshman, manager at Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure, split the cash prize and honors for second place. Susie’s recipe for chicken and wild rice soup was “passed up” from her daughter in Knoxville, while Susan’s cheeseburger soup likely originated from a Taste of Home magazine published many years ago.
The Arbor Day Foundation Employee Soup Challenge has been an employee favorite in the non-profit’s Lincoln office for several years; this was the first year that the contest also took place in Nebraska City.
Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup:
• 1 envelope (1 Oz.) chicken fajita seasoning mix (or taco seasoning)
• 1½ pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
• ½ cup chopped onion
• ¼ cup butter
• ⅓ cup flour
• 2½ cups chicken broth
• ⅓ cup canned diced tomatoes
• 1 cup Velveeta
• 8 ounces of your favorite shredded cheese (our winner used swiss)
• ⅓ cup salsa
• 1 cup heavy cream
• Multi-color tortilla chips (for topping)
Prepare seasoning mix according to package directions. In a skillet, add seasoning and diced chicken. Cook chicken thoroughly. Drain and set aside.
In large pot, sauté onion in butter for about two minutes. Stir in flour until blended, then gradually stir in the broth. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for two minutes longer, or until thickened slightly. Add tomatoes, Velveeta, cheese and salsa. Cook on medium-low until cheese is melted. Stir in heavy cream and add the chicken to the pot. Heat through but do not boil. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes to thicken. Garnish with crushed tortilla chips.