Tortilla soup may be the soup of all soups in my opinion. This recipe comes straight from my mom’s kitchen and is a great one to make ahead for a group–she had the soup all ready to go for an easy dinner when we arrived in Austin the day after Christmas. It’s also the perfect antidote to bone-chilling winter days, so we made a pot on Sunday for this week. The tomato-based broth is simple yet delicious, but the toppings might be my favorite part: creamy avocado, salty queso fresco, crunchy baked tortilla strips, a squeeze of lime, roasted poblano, cilantro and a few thinly sliced radishes for good measure. It’s almost like loaded nachos in a bowl, but way healthier!
Tortilla Soup with Chicken
For the chicken:
1.5-2 pounds of bone-in chicken breasts
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
Smoked paprika, chipotle chili powder, ancho chili powder
4 quarts of chicken stock
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of minced garlic
2 to 3 teaspoons finely minced jalapeño chili, with or without the seeds to taste
1 28-ounce can chopped fire-roasted tomatoes
6 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
6 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 avocado, sliced
Queso fresco or cojita, crumbled
2 corn tortillas, cut in strips and baked
Poblano pepper, roasted
2 radishes, sliced thinly (optional)
First, make a paste using the lime juice, some olive oil, and generous amounts each of the smoked paprika, chipotle chili powder and ancho chili powder. Using your hands, rub this all over the chicken, making sure to get under the skin. Let the chicken sit for 30 minutes, then either grill or do a good pan sear followed by baking until cooked through (time will vary depending on the size of your chicken breasts). Once the chicken is cooked, let it cool, then remove the skin, and shred it. Meanwhile, roast the poblano pepper over a gas burner (or grill or roast in the oven). Once well-charred all over, rub off the skin and slice into thin strips. Set aside.
In a large pot over high heat, bring 3 1/2 quarts of stock to a boil. Reduce the heat so the broth boils gently, and boil until reduced by half to about 7 cups, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush each side of the tortillas with olive oil and cut into 1/2-inch thick strips. Spread across a baking sheet and cook on the middle rack for 7 minutes. Check then continue cooking just another 4-5, until tortilla strips are golden and crispy, but not brown.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeño and cook for 1 -2 minutes to soften. Transfer onion, garlic and jalapeño to the reduced broth, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, then add the shredded chicken, fire-roasted tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper, and simmer until the chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Ladle the soup into bowls, and sprinkle with the toppings.