Amanda Sue Howell

Family Traditions: Sopa San Antonio

I’d like to preface this with a few qualifications. I’ve never posted a recipe on here, although I’ve wanted to for some time. So if you enjoy this, please let me know in the comments. Also, I’m not a food photographer or a professional photographer at all. So if my technique needs work, please feel free to email me some friendly advice, but don’t leave a mean comment. I’m delicate you know.

Project STIR is a series of documentary films launching this fall on Kickstarter. The films will follow Abuelitas, Nans & Mamaws passing down heirloom recipes in kitchens around the globe including countries like: Panama, New Zealand, Turkey, Croatia & England. Learn more about how to get involved at

Every year for my birthday I asked for Sopa San Antonio... the best tortilla soup I've ever had.

This recipe hasn’t been in my family for generations and generations. But it has been shared from my mother to me, and that’s how it begins isn’t it? And now I share this with my children.

Many years ago (hahaha love you Mom!!!) my parents would go to various Mexican restaurants, and try the same dish over and over, to see what they did and didn’t like. My Dad would go for the chimichangas, and my Mom would sample the tortilla soups. And over time she developed her preferences and created this soup.

At some point in my childhood I tried this soup, and fell instantly in love with it. Normal children ask for things like pizza or chicken nuggets on their birthday. I asked for Sopa San Antonio. Every year. For years. And now that I’m grown and away from home, my husband usually makes it for my birthday. He’s just that cool.

Sopa San Antonio

1 Tbsp cooking oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
4 oz. chopped green chiles
1 Tbsp. minced jalapeno
1 tsp. ground cumin
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 28 0z can tomatoes, pureed in blender
12 oz chopped cooked chicken
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 cup shredded cheese
12 corn tortillas
oil for frying tortillas

(Most of) The ingredients for Sopa San Antonio

In that photo you can see cheese, cumin, garlic, cilantro (yum!), corn tortillas, diced tomatoes.

Not shown: Chicken (because it was boiling at the time), chicken stock (because I’m human), green chiles (ditto), jalapeno (forgot to buy one).

Bonus: The big jahonkin’ shell his momma gave us one year. You’re welcome.


There’s the cooked, shredded chicken. In case you thought we secretly forgot it, and covered it up. It’s a vital part of this soup!

I also took a photo of the pureed tomatoes, but I’ve gotta tell you… those really aren’t that pretty. So I deleted that photo. I know you’re disappointed, but I’ll try harder next time. 😉


Heat up the oil; saute onions and garlic. And we all know that makes everything better, right? Add chiles, jalapeno and cumin and heat briefy until fragrant. Add stock, water tomatoes and chicken. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.

For our soup we had to make a slight alteration because we forgot to buy a jalapeno. Plus we have beautiful fresh green chiles because we got some in a Bountiful Baskets, so we just chopped those up instead of using canned green chiles, and we used that to cover for the jalapeno too.


Meanwhile, cut tortillas into 1/4-1/3 inch strips and fry until crisp. I know what you’re thinking… uhmmm Amanda, those don’t look like they’re 1/4-1/3 inch. That is correct. My husband thinks recipes are a starting point. And directions are like rules. And rules are like guidelines. Soooo he’s obviously one of the Pirates of the Caribbean.


Everyone knows when you photograph a recipe that you pretend like you always use the nice dishes. So here’s the pretend nice dish we used. Just kidding. We really used it… mostly because my husband said “I’ve already put the soup into it, we’re not wasting a dirtied dish”. In case you’re curious, the super kid friendly, colorful plastic bowls are behind it. Actually we’d use this bowl more often if I hadn’t accidentally picked out dishes that were dishwasher UNsafe. Whoops.


Alright. Time to get down to business. Put in a good handful of chips. And then put a little more. Just because homemade chips! And then you put cheese. I took a photo of that too, but it looked weird. (Again, I’m not a food photographer.)


Now you ladle in the soup. Mmmmmm soup.

Every year for my birthday I asked for Sopa San Antonio... the best tortilla soup I've ever had.

And then you sprinkle on a bit more cheese, and put sprinkle pile on the cilantro. And if you don’t like cilantro, we can’t be friends. Just kidding. No I’m not. Okay I am. Maybe. And most importantly, you enjoy!


Working Around Your Husband


One of the hidden struggles of working from home, is working around various family members. Today we're talking about our beloved husbands.

Today is Week 3, Day 1 in a 5 week series called Strategies for Success. These posts will drop on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This week we’re talking about Working Around Family Members , and today’s topic is how to work around your husband. If you want to make sure you catch all of the posts in this series, you can subscribe in the sidebar.

Our husbands can be a great source of support in our businesses. They can even be a partner. Working around your husband can be one of the best parts of business. It can also be one of the greatest distractions.

My husband jokes that he’s my silent partner… he’s not officially on any business documentation, and he’s not a writer for my blog. But he’s one of my biggest cheerleaders, and he’s always there to remind me why I love what I do.

But if I forget to keep him in the loop, he can unintentionally be underfoot. One of my early coaching calls, I forgot to let him know I’d be talking with a client. Thinking I was just Skyping with a girl-friend, he was cracking jokes off-screen. Whoops! Fortunately she took it in stride, but it was a little awkward until I explained what was going on.

Some of this goes back to last week’s post about the family meetings. Family meetings are a great way to prevent those kind of shenanigans from happening.

But as good as family meetings are, what’s even better is starting your day by reminding him (and your children if need be) about the goings on of the day. If you have a client call, remind him the night before, or that morning.

Also, make sure that he’s invested in this too, and that this is a shared dream. Your business doesn’t have to be a dream of his necessarily, but what will happen because of that business should be. The house you two will buy, the places y’all will travel to, the vacations the family will go on, etc.

How do you keep your  husband involved in your business?


Create A Command Center

One of the best things you can do to maintain sanity in your family schedule, is to create a command center. Come on in, and find out how!

Today is Week 2, Day 3 in a 5 week series called Strategies for Success. These posts will drop on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This week we’re talking about Family Communication, and today’s topic is how to reduce schedule stress-outs by creating a centrally located command center. If you want to make sure you catch all of the posts in this series, you can subscribe in the sidebar.

Okay, so on Monday we chatted about keeping the family in the loop. Easier said than done right?

One of my favorite methods for reining in the calendar chaos, is my creating a family command center. There are lots of different ways to create a command center, and you’re only limited by your budget & your imagination.

Some possibilities include:

  • A corkboard & thumbtacks
  • A designated wall-space and Post-Its
  • A wall calendar (or 3)

Or you can combine those ideas and really get funky with it. Ha!

Right now, my organizational system is on a combination of the Cozi app (more on that Friday), and my Me and My Beautiful Ideas Planner, and to-do lists.

The Happy Planner from MAMBI (Me & My Big Ideas) is one of my favorite planners ever!

If you’ve read my blog post on my to-do lists, you already know I use them to keep up with my various responsibilities. Recently I started using them on my oldest daughter, so she can keep track of her assignments as well. I tried it as an experiment, expecting her to fight me, but to my surprise she loved having a list “just like mom”. I guess you never know what kids are gonna get a kick out of!

Alright, just in case the command center is a new idea for you, I want to leave you with some extra brainstorming power.


Do you have a command center? What’s your favorite way to create one?


Make Your Business A Family Affair


One of the fastest ways to make your business run more smoothly, is to keep your family a part of it.

Today is Week 2, Day 1 in a 5 week series called Strategies for Success. These posts will drop on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This week we’re talking about Family Communication, and today’s topic is why you should make family meetings an integral part of your business . If you want to make sure you catch all of the posts in this series, you can subscribe in the sidebar.

One of the things you can do to make your business run more smoothly, is to keep your family in the loop. Sounds simple right? Trust me on this one… if you don’t keep them updated, you’ll wind up with your husband cracking jokes during your client call, because he thinks you’re on a Google Hangout with your buddies. Not that I’d know or anything.

I recommend having a family command center (more on that Wednesday), so that you can keep an eye on all the moving parts of your family’s schedule.

If you have important calls, make sure your husband knows about it, and let your children know as well (if they’ll be home).  Have a family meeting once a month, or more, so that you can evaluate what’s working, and what could use improving. You can also use this time to assess the chore rotations, brainstorm menus, etc.

If you have children, sit them down and explain what you’re trying to accomplish. Set up a vision board in an area of the house where they can see it. Get them excited about your goals & visions! Letting them be a part of the experience means that you’re not just raising future adults, but hopefully future entrepreneurs as well. And at the very least, they’ll have a healthy respect for other entrepreneurs.

Let me just quickly say that in this process, make sure that your children understand their importance. Make eye contact with them when you talk to them, don’t stay glued to your computer. Make sure that they have time with you on a daily basis. And don’t forget your husband either! My husband jokes that he’s my silent partner, but seriously he is. He is the backbone of my business, and it wouldn’t be half as successful without him. He cooks dinner, holds the kids at bay during important calls, and reminds me why I do this when I’m having a bad day (cause we all do!).

What is your number one tip for keeping your family included?


When Crap Happens

Ever have a day where things just don't seem to line out, and everything's getting in your way? Yup! Me too! Here are a few ideas on how to deal with that.

Today is Week 1, Day 3 in a 5 week series called Strategies for Success. These posts will drop on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This week we’re talking about Time Management, and today’s topic is how to handle things when life throws monkey wrenches your way. If you want to make sure you catch all of the posts in this series, you can subscribe in the sidebar.

Oh dear. My mother would not approve of the title of this post. (Sorry Mom!)

Seriously though, we’ve all had a day like that, right? Let me give you an example of a day that went horrendously wrong for me.

I was awakened by my phone ringing. Normally I don’t answer numbers I don’t know, especially if they’re calling that early in the morning. But in this case, it was a local number, so I went ahead. It turned out to be my landlady asking if I’d had any overnight company. She’d found a homeless woman in her shed, that they think slept there. Upon being busted, the woman told her that she’d stayed with me, and we were having a garage sale, and I’d I sent her to scope out the goods.

Uhmmmm negative Ghostrider, on all counts.

From there my husband went to test for a fire station, and missed the next phase by only 3 points. At this point we were super frustrated, but I thought I’d get some crocheting done.

Guess again.

The baby was teething, and feverish, and cranky. To make matters worse, just as I finally soothed her to sleep someone pounded on our door, causing me to startle, and her to wake up. I left my room and my middle daughter was yelling that there was a “pa-pleese” officer at the door.

As it turned out, he’d been cruising by our neighborhood and spotted the electrical spool we use as a table on our porch, and wanted to know where we’d gotten it.

Imagine me doing the Jim Carrey “Alrrriiiigggghhty then” about now.

Crap happens. And okay, so sometimes the day just isn’t recoverable. But this is when having a to-do list comes in super handy for me. If things throw me off balance, and I get scattered, I can come back to that list and remind myself what I should be doing.

If you’re feeling crazy disconnected or scattered, another favorite of mine is to stop and have a dance break. Some people would say to take this moment and breathe, but I’ve just never really been a palm-press and ommmm sort of person. Soooo dance break?

How do you handle it when life throws a monkey wrench in things?

Working Through Illness & Pregnancy

How do you run your business when your children are sick? Or when you're sick? Or when your spouse is sick? How do you run things when you're pregnant or struggling with chronic illness? That's what we're talking about today, on day 2 of this week's series on Time Management.

Today is Week 1, Day 2 in a 5 week series called Strategies for Success. These posts will drop on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This week we’re talking about Time Management, and today’s topic is working while you’re sick. If you want to make sure you catch all of the posts in this series, you can subscribe in the sidebar.

Okay so with 5 kids of my own, it’s fair to say that I’ve dealt with pregnancy at least a few times. But I’ve also dealt with sick kiddos on occasion, and my own varying health concerns.

For some reason my immune system is super low, and I catch almost every cold or virus that sweeps through town. My own saving grace is that I seem to have a very tough stomach, so I rarely get anything that makes me vomit. But I’ve dealt with sinus infections, bronchitis, walking pneumonia, and I don’t even know what else.

Additionally, a good many of my friends suspect that I may have fibromyalgia or CFS or something in that vein. It’s not uncommon for my skin to feel bruised, even if there is no bruising there. Sometimes, even my hair hurts, which sounds really weird to say.

Each of these concerns requires a slightly different approach, but here are some tips that I’ve picked up along the way.

 Tips For Working Through Illness

  1. If you’re the one who’s sick, you have to try and take it easy as possible. Obviously that’s easier said than done, and as moms we have certain inescapable responsibilities. But if you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll run yourself down, and it’ll take longer to get back up and running.
  2. If your kiddos/hubby are sick, see if you can do lighter work for the day. Maybe this isn’t the day for projects that are hard to stop and start, or items that require fierce concentration. Today might be a day for getting inspired, or being active on social media, or projects that are easy to do in small bursts.
  3. Small children who aren’t feeling well may handle things better if you make the living room home base for the day. They can lay on the couch, watch a movie, and be near Mom. And we all know that proximity to Mom affects wellness. 🙂
  4. If all else fails, sometimes spending the day in the rocking chair with them is better for your productivity and their well-being. Strange as that may sound if you’re being interrupted frequently, odds are that your work just won’t be high quality.
If your kids are sick maybe this isn't the day for projects that require concentration. Click To Tweet

Bonus Tip for Chronic Illness

If you struggle with chronic illness, learn to recognize warning signs (if at all possible), and have a plan ready for those days. If those days completely take you down, maybe you need a stash of pre-written blog posts ready to go. And have a list of simple, low-energy tasks on hand.

4 Tips For Working Through Pregnancy

  1. If you’re an all-day-sickness kinda gal, keep 2 things on hand at all times. A trashcan/bucket and a bottle of water. If you can hack crackers, keep some of those on hand too.
  2. Determine how your energy seems to flow through the day. If you crash midday, don’t fight it! Take a nap, and work earlier in the day, or save your energy for later.
  3. As soon as you find out you’re pregnant, create a plan for your pregnancy, so that you have things figured out in advance. Figure out things like when you’ll be taking “maternity leave”, and when you intend to come back to your business, so you have something to tell your clients.
  4. If you’re not already automating some of your social media, this is a perfect time to start. Those automated  posts can also run while you’re on maternity leave, and you can just keep up with the retweets, comments, etc.
If you crash midday don't fight it! Take a nap & save your energy for later. Click To Tweet

Strategies in place are a great thing to have, but in the end follow your intuition. Some days you may just have to concede, and take it easy.

What are some of your best tips for working around/through down times?