Chicken Tortilla Soup
There is a small Mexican restaurant that I love to go to because they make the best chicken tortilla soup. I used theirs as a model for my recipe because every time I go there I get a burrito and a bowl of their soup. It’s enough food for about three meals and it doesn’t matter if it is 100° in the middle of summer, I will wait and take it home to an air-conditioned house to eat it in one sitting. Chicken tortilla soup is comforting and flavorful yet not too heavy.
The lightly spiced broth is topped with a lime squeeze, fresh cilantro, Monterey Jack cheese, avocado and fresh crispy tortilla strips. If you want to skip baking the tortilla strips you can use crushed up tortilla chips in its place. Toppings definitely add a lot to the chicken tortilla soup so don’t be afraid to go topping crazy. The soup requires minimal prep and it simmers for about 40 minutes, which makes it an easy dinner option when entertaining guests. I like spreading out the toppings so the guests can go down the line and add their own toppings.
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (4-ounce) can mild green chilies
2 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 1½ pounds
1½ tablespoons chili powder
3 limes, divided
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt & pepper
8 small corn tortillas
Vegetable oil, as needed, for frying
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 avocado, pitted and sliced
In a large stock pot heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic and diced onion. Sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin, paprika and cayenne and cook, stirring constantly for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, diced tomatoes, with their liquid, the green chilies and 2 cups of water. Let simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the broth simmers season the chicken breasts on both sides liberally with chili powder. In a sauté pan heat the remaining tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Cook the chicken until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and let cool. Chop the chicken into chunks and stir into the broth. Continue to simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
Stir in the juice from two of the limes, half of the chopped cilantro and season with salt and pepper.
Slice the tortillas in half and then into 2-inch long strips. Fill a large sauté pan with enough oil to reach 1-inch up the side of the pan. Heat oil to 350°. When the oil is hot, add some of the tortilla strips to the pan and fry until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Work in batches so the pan is not overcrowded. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
To serve: scoop the broth into bowls and top with shredded Monterey jack cheese, avocado, the remaining cilantro and tortilla strips. Cut the remaining lime into wedges to serve on the side.
Serves 6, yields about 10 cups of soup.