Yep, still winter here in Minneapolis. Although we don’t have much snow and our temperatures are well above zero (which is actually balmy for this time of year) it is definitely still winter. And this is the time of winter that I start going just a little crazy, dreaming about sunshine and warmer weather. I do have a vacation coming up pretty soon, but in the meantime I’m just going to have make do with this Chicken Tortilla Soup. Light yet packed with flavor, this soup will bring you just a little piece of summer.
So this weekend my husband went ice fishing. Secretly, this made me happy. After all, ice fishing holds no allure to me- sitting in a tiny shack with a bunch of guys and prepackaged food, in the middle of winter’s freezing temperatures. Meanwhile I would be sleeping in a warm bed, eating great food and showering daily. I knew I would spend at least some of the time cooking. And that made me happy (blissfully happy-but we don’t need to tell my husband that).
The weekend called for soup. Something my kids would eat. Something that reminded me of vacations in Mexico. Something that contained cilantro (because I LOVE cilantro, of course). Something that would make up for all of the “Big Game” noshing I’ve been doing (I love an excuse to nosh…any excuse will do!). Chicken Tortilla Soup checked all of those boxes.
I’ll be the first to admit there are many types of tortilla soup. Thick. Full of chunky vegetables. Vegetarian. This one is none of those. This Chicken Tortilla Soup shines precisely because of it’s lack of distraction. A hearty broth envelopes shredded chicken. The garnishes are merely a matter of preference. After I shot these pictures, my five year old actually pointed out the best garnish of all-and I hadn’t even included it on my table. Avocado. Of course.
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Chicken Tortilla Soup
- 4 chicken breasts 2 pounds, trimmed
- 1 onion quartered
- 5 garlic cloves divided
- 8 sprigs of cilantro
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 3 Roma tomatoes cored
- 1 red pepper seeded and quartered
- 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 1 jalapeno cored and seeded
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- avocado cubed
- cotija cheese crumbled
- cilantro chopped
- lime wedges
- minced jalapeno
- TORTILLA STRIPS:
- 8 corn tortillas
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
TO MAKE THE TORTILLA STRIPS:
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Slice corn tortillas into 1/2 inch strips.
Spread tortilla strips on baking sheets.
Drizzle with oil and stir to evenly coat.
Bake for 6 minutes, shake pan, and then bake for an additional 5-6 minutes until crispy. (Watch carefully the last few minutes, they burn quickly)
Season with 1 teaspoon of salt (or more to taste).
Allow to cool.
TO MAKE THE SOUP:
In a large pot, add chicken, 2 onion quarters, 3 garlic cloves, cilantro and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil.
Turn down to a simmer and cover. Cook until chicken is 160ºF on a meat thermometer (about 20 minutes).
Remove the chicken to a large bowl. Shred chicken with 2 forks. Set chicken aside.
Drain broth through a fine meshed sieve to remove solids. Set broth aside.
Place tomatoes, red pepper, remaining 2 quarters of onion, chipotle peppers, jalapeño, cumin, and oregano into the bowl of a food processor.
Process until smooth.
Heat teaspoon of olive oil in a dutch oven.
Add pureed tomato mixture and cook for approximately 10 minutes until bright red mixture darkens.
Add broth to tomato mixture in the dutch oven and bring to a boil.
Turn down heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow flavors to combine.
Add shredded chicken to the soup and simmer for additional 5 minutes.
Taste and add salt as needed.
Place tortilla strips in bowls and then ladle soup over strips.
Garnish with cilantro, cotija cheese, avocado, lime wedges, and/or minced jalapeño.
*Adapted from a recipe found in 100 Recipes (America’s Test Kitchen).