During the 1960’s, dining out was considered a treat, or at least it was for my family, but nowadays it seems families dine out almost as much as they have meals at home. When I became an adult and married, we started eating out more often than I had been used to and started frequenting several restaurants in town over the years, as well as a few places in Joplin.

While I was in high school, about the only places I remember grabbing a bite to eat out on my own, would have been the KuKu or Sundowners Mile High. Before that, I can remember having a few burgers and fries at Roy’s Drive Inn or EC’s. But after I married, it became a Friday night ritual to go dine out somewhere, places like Ken’s Drive Inn or the Rainbow Café were just a couple of places we would go to. Once in a while, we would venture to Joplin to eat, usually to have something you couldn’t get in Miami at that time, a lot of times it would be Mexican food.

I’ve noticed Friday night eating out must still be a ritual for a lot of the younger families in Miami. As if you happen to venture out on a Friday evening to dine in Miami, most of the restaurants are generally full, with it seems like the Mexican restaurants always being the busiest. One major change I’ve noticed in our little community from the 1960’s to today, is that it is much easier to find a good taco in town, than it is a good hamburger. That was not always the case in days gone by; good burgers were on about every block in the cities business district when I was young and tacos were almost nonexistent. But that is just a sign of the times, and I’m not complaining, because as much as I like a good burger, I also enjoy a good taco and other Mexican fare as well.

As I’ve mentioned before, back in the day, you had to venture out of town to find Mexican food in our area, and I ate a lot of it at Casa Bonita in Tulsa, and a couple of different Mexican restaurants that were in Joplin at the time. But every now and then, we would have Mexican food at home, usually tacos. I don’t know if many people bother with preparing Mexican food at home anymore or not, because of all the choices Miami now has to offer for the “South of the Border” fare, but I still do occasionally, and if I say so myself, have become quite proficient at doing it. It allows me to prepare something a little different than what you might find at one of our local eatery’s, or prepare a traditional Mexican dish to your own taste.

When it comes to Mexican food, there is one particular dish my late wife used to prepare for the family occasionally for us at home, that I’m pretty sure you can’t find in a Mexican restaurant, or at least I have never seen it. It was a dish she called “Chicken Sopa.” I do not have her original recipe that she used to prepare this dish, but have been able, through memory and taste, to duplicate it enough that you can’t notice the difference. I have posted this recipe before, but, because it is still one of my favorites, and Mexican food seems to be one the most popular fares in town, I felt obliged to post it again, so that anyone who has not tried or seen the recipe can have the opportunity to give it a try. I promise you won’t be sorry you did…..

Chicken Sopa

2 boneless Chicken breast seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, and chili seasoning

2 cans cream of chicken soup

1 chopped onion sautéed in butter

1 can Mild Rotel drained

1 can Hatch Green Chilies drained)

1 bag Fritos Corn Chips

2 cups shredded cheese (I believe my late wife used Velveeta?)

Season Chicken, boil and retain stock

Chop Chicken and mix in a large bowl with Soup, onion, Rotel, and ½ the Chilies…add stock as needed to moisten

In casserole dish, put down layer of Corn Chips, ½ Chicken mixture, and layer of Cheese…Repeat

Garnish the Top w/ Corn Chips and remaining Hatch Chilies..