Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I'm tempted to go on a quest/rant and figure out why chicken tortilla soup is not called its rightful name, Aztec Soup. Perhaps the name suggests that it is a soup made from Aztecs? Well, whatever the reason is, there is one thing that is clear, this soup is delicious and one of my go to meals when I'm sickies (the spiciness will clear your sinuses!) or need some comfort food.

This is a recipe that I did not learn from my mom. I've developed this recipe from trial and error and taking ideas from other people's versions. The one that most inspired me was served at my brother's wedding, which took place in my hometown in Mexico. It was one of the million courses that resulted in me having eaten the equivalent of three days' worth of meals, and although it is Aztec soup, I was lucky that Montezuma did not take revenge on me.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Serves 6


4 cups of shredded chicken (I use both breast and thigh meat)
4 medium tomatoes, roasted (instructions for roasting to follow)
2 dried pasilla, guajillo, or ancho peppers, stemmed, seeded
1 cup yellow onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
½ tbs ground cumin
1 pinch of dried oregano
8 cups of chicken stock
1-2 tbs of salt
1 tsp pepper
3 tbs of olive oil
1 cup of vegetable oil for frying
10 tortillas, cut into strips


In a large soup pot, heat 2 tbs of olive oil over high heat. Tear the pepper into pieces and add to pot, cook for about 1 minute. Remove the pepper pieces from pot and set aside. Remove pot from heat and let cool for about a minute. Return to heat and lower to medium, add the onions and garlic, cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add oregano and bay leaf and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Remove the onion-garlic mixture and put in a blender (try to get as little oil as possible. Do NOT clean pot). Lower heat.

In a blender, add the cooked onions and garlic, roasted tomatoes, and puree.

Turn on the heat to high, add 1 tbs of oil, add the blended mixture and fry for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and cumin, let simmer for about 25 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat, cover and let sit.

Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once oil has reached frying temperature (350 degrees F or test it out with a piece of tortilla, it should start to fry immediately), add the tortilla strips in batches. Fry for about 1-2 minutes or until golden and crispy. Remove each batch and let drain over a paper towel-lined plate.

Serve in bowls. Garnish with fried tortilla strips, a lime wedge, and your choice of toppings!

Topping suggestions: Cheese (queso fresco, Monterey jack, cotija), cilantro, sliced avocado, finely shredded cabbage, corn, beans, and sour cream.