I LOVE a good tortilla soup. I have a confession though. Not even thinking about the name itself, I used to make it without tortillas! I’ve just enjoyed it so many times while eating out and then created my own based on those flavors. Then one day, a client requested that I make the soup based on Marcela Valladolid’s recipe for “Classic Tortilla Soup”. That was when I realized I had been so wrong. A tortilla soup cannot be a “tortilla” soup without the addition of tortillas. And not just the crispy ones you garnish it with. Her recipe starts with charred vegetables and then has tortillas blended in which is what I now assume is the traditional method for making a tortilla soup. I kind of mashed up my original with the charring technique, but in a different way. So, here is my go-to recipe for chicken tortilla soup. It is more of a full meal since it has the addition of chicken and some extra vegetables. I use tomato paste to give it just a little more body than the tortillas alone give it. Also, instead of charring the vegetables, I char the tortillas first. I feel like it gives the soup more of a toasty corn flavor. You can’t have this soup without some garnish either. Crispy tortillas, crema, fresh cilantro, cheese, and extra limes are my favorites. Cinco De Mayo is just a couple days away so gear up to make this recipe and don’t forget the cerveza! Yes, I know. An oddly celebrated holiday in America. Or is it just California? Either way, it’s another reason to enjoy some Mexican fare as if you needed any at all.
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Chicken Tortilla Soup
Yield: About 8 generous servings
1 T cooking oil
2 C yellow onion, medium diced
1 C green bell pepper, medium diced
1 C Red Bell Pepper, medium diced
½ C Anaheim pepper, small diced
½ C jalapeno, small diced
2 T garlic, minced
1 6 oz can tomato paste
2 t cumin
2 t chili powder
2 t Mexican oregano
2 Qt Chicken Stock
2 Lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
3 Corn Tortillas
3 T cilantro, finely chopped
1 lime, juiced
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté the brown onion, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, Anaheim pepper, jalapeno, and garlic over medium high heat in a large pot for about 3minutes
Add the tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, Mexican oregano and cook for about 3 minutes stirring occasionally.
Add the chicken stock, scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pot, and bring to a boil
Add the chicken thighs and bring back up to a boil then reduce to a simmer
Allow the chicken to simmer covered until it is cooked through and shreds apart easily (about 20-30 minutes)
Meanwhile, place each tortilla over an open flame flipping once until slightly charred on each side
When the chicken is cooked through and shreds easily, remove and reserve
Tear the tortillas into pieces and add to the pot. Using a hand blender or stand blender, puree the soup until the tortilla bits are pureed and incorporated into the soup
Shred the chicken into bite sized pieces and return to the pot. Simmer for about another 10 minutes
Finish the soup with the cilantro, lime and salt and pepper to taste