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February 6, 2010

Tortilla Soup

This recipe is from Fine Cooking Magazine - May 2002. I LOVE this magazine - I really want a new subscription but it hasn't been in the budget (it's like $65 for 3 yrs and I haven't been able to justify that...ah well, some day...)

ANYWAY - I made it the first time in 2002 and I have made it countless times since. It's a wonderful, fabulous recipe. Between the heat of the broth, the cool tang of the lime, the smooth avocado - I don't know - it's magic in a bowl...I always quadruple the recipe since we have such a big family and I love soup the next day too - it just melds together...mmmm

My Mom has been bugging me for this recipe - so have my sisters - so I figured I should FINALLY post it here. I emailed it directly to you Mom!

Make it this winter - you won't regret it.

Chicken and Tortilla Soup

Be sure the broth is very hot so that it heats up the ingredients in the bowl and offers a strong contrast with the cool, smooth chunks of avocado. The spice level is very low – just a slight chile warmth – so if you prefer more of a kick, add more chili powder or use a hotter powder. This recipe is easily doubled. Serves tow as a light main course or substantial first course.

1 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil, plus another ½ to 1 cup for frying the tortillas
¼ cup finely chopped onion (from about ½ small onion)
1 Tbsp chili powder; more to taste
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 skinless chicken thighs (bone in or boneless)
Salt to taste
4 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth (I use Pacific brand)
Fresh cilantro; six 2” stems for the broth plus 1/4 cup roughly chopped leaves for the garnish
4 fresh corn tortillas, 6” across, cut into 1/4 “ wide strips
½ cup corn kernels (canned is fine)
½ cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
¾ cup diced fresh tomato

For the garnish:

1 ripe avocado, diced and tossed with a squeezer of lime juice
¼ cup crumbled queso fresco, feta, or ricotta salata
2 dollops sour cream
Lime wedges for serving

  1. Put 1 Tbsp of the oil in a large saucepan or small soup pot, add the onion, and cook over medium heat until the onion has softened but not browned, about 3 mn. Add the chili powder and tomato paste and stir with a wooden spoon to mix and cook briefly; take care not to let the chili powder scorch.
  1. Season the chicken things lightly with salt and nestle them in the chile paste, turning them once so they’re entirely coated. Pour in about ½ cup of the broth and adjust the heat to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook the chicken, turning once, until it’s extremely tender when pierced with a knife, 30-40mn (add a little more broth if the pan is drying out). When the chicken’s done, remove it from the pan, let it cool a bit, and cut or shred it into bite-size pieces, discarding any bones and bits of fat or gristle; set aside.
  1. If there’s any visible grease in the pan, spoon it off, add the remaining broth and the cilantro stems and simmer, uncovered, until the broth has reduced by about 1/3 and is quite flavorful, 20-30 mn.
  1. While the broth is reducing, fry the tortillas; see the note below.
  1. Divide the shredded chicken, the corn, black beans, tomato and tortilla strips between tow large soup or pasta bowls. Reheat the broth if necessary so it’s piping hot and pour it over the ingredients in the bowls. Serve immediately and let each diner add the avocado, cheese, sour cream, chopped cilantro, and a big squeeze of the lime juice at the table.

Cook the crispy strips:
Line a plate or tray with 2 layers of paper towels. In a small, high-sided saucepan, heat enough oil to come to about 1” depth. Heat the oil over medium heat; when it reaches 375 degrees or when a strip of tortilla sizzles immediately when dipped in the oil, add 6-8 strips of tortilla. With tongs of a long fork, “scrunch” them for a second or tow so they take on a wavy shape. Fry until the strips aren’t bubbling much and have become pale brown, about 1 mn. Transfer to the paper towels. Repeat with the remaining strips.