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Saturday, December 29, 2012

What's in the Freezer? Sopa de Carnitas with Chipotle and Lime

My deliberate leftovers strategy continues! First, I made pork carnitas for dinner last week. My family absolutely adores carnitas. They've requested them 3 times in under 5 weeks, which is a for-sure sign that a recipe is a keeper. Literally translated, carnitas means "little meats" and are simply a shredded meat filling for tacos. The pork is cooked low and slow in a spicy flavorful mixture until it is falling apart and tender, and then it's shredded. As a bonus, I use the slow cooker, so they're ridiculously easy to make. Although if you do this when you serve dinner, I won't judge you.

There was a slight hitch in my quest for deliberate leftovers, however. The first two times I made carnitas, I didn't end up with any leftovers because Mr. Soup spent the next two days nibbling on a taco here and and a taco there. Sort of like I do with leftover ham... only it's cute when I do it.

Obviously, Mr. Soup eating all the carnitas does not bode well for a soupy forecast. So this time, after dinner was over, I created a small diversion by telling him Die Hard was on (really, it doesn't even matter which one...), and then I threw the leftovers straight into the freezer. Take that!

It doesn't get much better than this, frankly. I have a whole Saturday stretching out before me with no outside-of-the-house plans. The leaves are turning orange and yellow. Best yet, it's absolutely pouring down rain, for the first time in almost 90 days. It's a soup-making kind of day, and I know where there is a secret stash of leftover carnitas.

Spicy Sopa de Carnitas with Chipotle and Lime
Serves 6

2 T. canola or vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
1 clove of garlic, pressed through a garlic press
2 T. minced jalepeno (remove the ribs and seeds if you want less heat)
2 chipotle peppers, minced into a paste plus 1 T. of the adobo sauce they were canned in
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. dried oregano (Mexican, if you have it)
3 cups (or so) leftover shredded pork carnitas (my favorite recipe follows, but any will work)
6 cups chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1/4 c. minced cilantro
1-2 T. fresh lime juice

Heat oil in large soup pot over medium heat until hot, but not smoking. Add onions and sautee until they are softened and transluscent, around 10 minutes. Add jalepenos and sautee an additional 2 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and oregano and sautee, stirring, until everything is coated. Add the minced chipotle and the adobo and stir again, until coated well.

Add the carnitas, broth, tomatoes, and beans. Stir well and bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occassionally, until the flavors have come together, about an hour.

Stir in frozen corn, cilantro, and fresh lime juice. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Slow-Cooker Carnitas
adpted from

4 lbs. pork shoulder*, cut into 5-inch pieces
Juice of one orange
Juice of one lime
1 cup salsa
1 t. cumin
1 t. garlic salt
1 t. paprika
1 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1 T. brown sugar
*I actually use a Farmland pork product cut specifically for carnitas. I can only get it at my local WalMart. If you find and use this as well, all you need to do is put it straight in the slow cooker. Very, very convenient.
Mix all ingredients together except the pork. Place pork in crockpot, add spice and salsa mixture over the top, and toss until the meat is coated. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or until the meat is falling-apart tender.
Preheat the broiler.   

Shred the pork. I used to shred meat with two forks, which seriously limited my willingness to make recipes that required this step. Then I discovered an amazing tip - you can use your KitchenAid to shred meat!!!! Seriously. It works great, and is the best shortcut I have ever found. Place meat in the bowl of your KitchenAid in smallish batches. Using the paddle attachment, shred meat on the lowest speed. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Once it is all shredded, pour remaining sauce from the slow cooker over the pork and mix it gently together.
Place baking sheet in oven and broil meat, tossing once or twice, until the carnitas are brown and caramelized around the edges. (about 5 minutes, give or take)


  1. I didn't make the soup, but made the carnitas recipe last night. I used a pork butt and found that the meat was so tender, it fell apart and I didn't have to shred it with the forks! Putting it under the broiler made a huge difference! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    Sudoku Crazy

  2. Glad you like it! Like I said, as far as my family is concerened... it's a keeper!

  3. I had this soup at my sister-in-laws last night for dinner and it was so good. She has now turned me on to your website and I am addicted. I love soup and always looking for new ideas. Thank you for sharing.

  4. OMG! This is simply delicious! I always make carnitas in the crockpot and sooner or later get sick of the burritos and tacos we usually make with them. I was thinking of making a chicken noodle soup and decided to see if there was any thing on the internet which included carnitas since I had a lot left. Needless to say I came across this. I had most of the ingredients at home so I decided to try it. I sort of changed it a bit though. Just a tad bit. I added canned corn instead of frozen and I found diced tomatoes which included jalapenos so I killed two birds with one stone. Oh, and I didn't have any garlic cloves (thought I did) so I used granulated garlic. It came out perfect! I was so elated because this was something new to me and I took a gamble which certainly paid off. I will definitely make this soup whenever I make carnitas now! SUPERB! Thanks so much!

  5. Glad to hear you liked the soup! It's not soup-season here right now, but I'll be back in the fall with new recipes. Unless I make gazpacho this summer. I do love gazpacho. :)

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