Who Wants Heat?

This time of year, I enjoy some spice with my soup. Not too much but just enough to help me through the cold spell outside. And what better cuisine to turn to than Mexican? With the mild heat of these chilies and the crunch of spicy wonton skins, this satisfied me…..until my next need for heat.

Green Chile and Spiced Wonton Soup
I used very, VERY sharp Cheddar cheese here in my recipe because it is one of my favorite cheeses on anything. If you want to stay with the “flow” of the theme, I urge you to try any jalapeno cheeses or pepperjack. Even some great Mexican queso would be perfect, such as Cotija, Chihuahua or Manchego(with aged Manchego being the best because of its hardness and ease of grating).

1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
15 wontons skins
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 leek(white part only)thinly sliced
1 rib celery
1 teaspoon garlic in oil
2 cups chicken broth
2(4-ounce) cans diced green chiles, drained and rinsed
1 cup minced, cooked chicken or pork
2 cups half-and-half or light cream
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400-degrees F. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin. Cut 12 of the wonton skins each into 2 triangles and diced the remainder into 1/4-inch squares. Place the wontons in the bowl of chili powder mixture and coat each wonton with the mixture. Place on a baking sheet and separate as much as possible. Sprinkle remainder seasonings on top and bake until crisp, about 5-6 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut off most of the stem of the celery rib and the top. Cut into 3-4-inch segments and slice very thinly from end to end, julienne-style; set aside.
Heat butter in a skillet over medium-high heat until melted. Add the leek, celery and garlic and continue cooking until celery is softened, about 5-6 minutes. Add the chicken broth, chilies and chicken and bring to boiling. While that is coming up to temperature, whisk together the half-and-half, flour and remainder of the cumin until smooth. Add to the skillet and stir constantly until soup is thickened, about 2 minutes. Mix the small baked wontons to the soup and gently stir before ladling into 4 serving bowls. Garnish with cheese and a couple of the crisp, baked, larger triangular wonton skins.