Monday, January 31, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

There are few better ways to spend a Sunday than standing over a simmering pot of soup, stirring and tasting, forgetting everything else in the world except the aroma filling the house.  Today felt like a soup-making-Sunday, so that's what I set about doing.  It's a delicious ritual; choose recipe, make list, go shopping, chop, rinse, stir.  Stir some more.  By the time the soup is ready I will be so relaxed all I'll want to do is sit back, slurp it down, and find a comfortable place to snooze.  I don't know about you, but it sounds like a perfect day to me.

Today's Chicken Tortilla Soup is one of my husband's favorites.  He found it years back on TV, and after making it several times we've made a few modifications.  It's a very healthy recipe and has great corn flavor from the toasted tortilla strips that are crushed and added to the broth.
I think my favorite part of this soup is the garnishes, which range from tortilla strips, to shredded cheddar cheese, to chunks of fresh avocado.  The garnishes add texture and flavors which really enhance the soup, I don't recommend skipping them. 
First, saute the onion and garlic in vegetable oil for a few minutes until translucent.  Then add the spices, and let that cook together for a few minutes.
Then add the tomatoes and chilis, and let it simmer together for a few minutes more.
Dump everything else (except cilantro) in the pot and let simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes.
About 30 minutes before you're ready to serve, add the chopped cilantro.
And this is what you'll see simmering on the stove. 

When you're ready to serve, ladle some soup into a bowl.  Garnish with tortilla strips, chunks of avocado, shredded cheese etc...

This soup is so absolutely simple to make, and tastes amazing.  It's great served with warmed tortilla chips and guacamole.  Enjoy!


Chicken Tortilla Soup
8 corn tortillas for soup, 6 more for garnish, sliced into strips
3/4 c chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
2 T vegetable oil
1 t lemon pepper
1.5 t chili powder
1 t ground cumin
1 4oz can green chilis
1 14.5 oz can Mexican style stewed tomatoes
1 lb shredded chicken (I used a small rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)
6 c chicken broth
1.5 t Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1 t hot sauce (Cholula, Tapatio)
3 T chopped fresh cilantro for soup, plus 3 T more for garnish
(I didn't add black beans, but after eating the soup, the tasters and I agreed that a 14.5 oz can of rinsed black beans would add excellent texture to the soup.  I'm going to try that next time.)


Garnishes
1 c diced avocado
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
Tortilla Strips
Sour Cream
Hot sauce
Diced green onions

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut tortillas into thin strips.  Lay strips on baking sheet and toast in the oven 10-15 minutes.  Reserve some of the strips for garnish, crush the rest to add to the soup.

In soup pot or dutch oven, saute onion and garlic in vegetable oil for about 5 minutes until translucent.  Add the spices and cook for a few minutes to release their oils.  Add chilis and tomatoes, and cook a few minutes more.  Add chicken, chicken broth, Worcestershire, hot sauce, bay leaf and crushed tortillas.  Simmer over low/medium heat for 45 minutes.  Add cilantro and simmer 30 minutes or less, you don't want to cook all the flavor out of it.  Serve the soup topped with your choice of garnishes.  Makes approximately 3 quarts.

Guacamole
2 1/2 - 3 avocados
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 large red onion, finely minced
3 T fresh cilantro, minced
1/2 t salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
squeeze fresh lemon juice
a couple shakes of Cholula

Cut avocados in half, remove pits, scoop flesh into bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix roughly, leaving some chunks of avocado in tact for texture.  Serve with tortilla chips that have been warmed under a low broiler for approximately 4 minutes.