This soup is a favorite with our family and friends. We have a tradition that everyone chooses what they would like for their birthday dinner. Last night we had a birthday dinner for Hannah, who is, for all practical purposes, family, and she chose Chicken tortilla soup. This recipe is a very traditional version; it’s not a thick soup, but it is certainly hearty. The soup, despite the fact that it’s served hot, is a great summertime soup. I think it’s the fresh flavors of the avocado, cilantro and lime that make the soup seem almost refreshing. It’s also a great soup if you’re feeding a crowd. I served it several years ago at a Cinco de Mayo party and everyone loved that they could add their own garnishes adding additional flavor to their soup. The soup is not difficult to make, but it does take a fair amount of time to assemble. I often cook the chicken the night before so I don’t have as much to do at one time. If serving for dinner, I usually make simple cheese quesadillas to accompany the soup. Serves 8-10.
- 2 Large Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (can substitute with boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
- 12-14 Cups Chicken Broth
- 1 TBS. Ground Cumin
- 1 tsp. Chili Powder
- 2 cloves Garlic- chopped
- 2 Cups Corn Oil*
- 1/2 Large Sweet or White Onion – chopped
- 1 Red Bell Pepper- chopped
- 2 4 oz. Cans of Green Chilis
- 1 1/2 Cups Chopped Fresh Tomato (I use Romas or Cherry tomatoes)
- 4 TBS. Fresh Cilantro – finely chopped
- 6 Fresh Limes
- 2 Avocados – thinly sliced
- 4 Cups Tortilla Strips or Crushed Tortilla Chips
- 2 -3 Cups Shredded Mexican 4 Cheese Blend (or a combination of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese)
- Jalapeno slices (from a can or jar – unless you really like heat) – optional
* If you are using store bought tortilla strips or chips, you only need 1-2 TBS. Corn Oil.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add about 2 Cups of chicken broth to an oven proof baking dish (large enough to hold 2 chicken breasts). Add chicken breasts. Season each chicken breast with the ground cumin and chili powder and top with chopped garlic. Cover with foil and bake in the oven until cooked through (about 30-35 minutes depending on thickness of chicken). Allow chicken to cool, and shred with a fork.
Add 1-2 TBS. corn oil to a large stockpot and heat over medium. Add chopped onion and red pepper and saute until onion is translucent and pepper is soft. Add 10-12 cups of chicken broth, shredded cooked chicken, green chilis, chopped tomatoes, and about 1 1/2 TBS. chopped cilantro to the pot. Add 6-8 TBS. freshly squeezed lime juice to the soup. (I think the lime juice is key to the fantastic flavor of this soup, so I am generous with it, but I also set out sliced limes so people can add their own lime juice). Heat thoroughly and then simmer until ready to serve.
To make homemade tortilla strips:
Slice 10 small corn tortillas into 1/2 inch strips.* In a medium stockpot, heat about 2 Cups of corn oil (you need about 1 1/2 – 2 inches of oil in the bottom of the pot) to 350 degrees. Working in batches, add tortilla strips and fry (tossing occasionally so they don’t stick together) until golden brown. Transfer fried tortilla strips to a baking tray lined with paper towel, season generously with salt and allow to drain. * This is the same method for making homemade tortilla chips, just cut the tortillas into triangles ( I also use sea salt when making chips because I like them a little saltier).
Set out garnishes of sliced avocado, lime wedges, tortilla strips or chips, shredded cheese, and remaining chopped cilantro. Add soup to bowls and encourage guests to add their own garnishes (the tortillas are a must since it is called tortilla soup, but I let people decide how many tortillas they want).