Nothing comforts you when you’re under the weather like a hot, hearty bowl of soup. When I woke up last Sunday feeling a bit under the weather, I knew I wanted some chicken soup to warm my soul. I didn’t want to go for the traditional Chicken Noodle Soup I ate as a child when I was sick. Instead, I fancied some spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup, something that would open up my sinuses and tickle my palate. Here’s how I created my tasty culinary creation.
1 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
1 Can of Black Beans
1 Can of Fire-Roasted Tomatoes (Rotel works great)
1 Carton of Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 Medium Bell Pepper (any color will do)
1 Medium Red Onion
1 Ear of Corn
1 Bunch of Fresh Cilantro
1 Pack of Taco Seasoning (try to pick one with no added salt)
1 Tbsp of Tomato Paste (try and find this in a squeezable tube that you can refrigerate and use again)
2-3 Corn Tortillas
1/4 Cup of Shredded Cheese (a Mexican blend works well, but whatever you have on hand will work)
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
To start, I heated a large pot of water. Once it was boiling, I added a generous helping of coarse sea salt and added the chicken breast. Boil the breast for about 10-12 minutes and place it in a bowl to cool off.
While the chicken cooks, prep your veggies for the soup. Small dice (smaller than bite-sized) the bell pepper and onion; take a portion of the onion and finely chop it then set it aside for a soup topping. Remove the husks and silk from the corn and cut the bottom off the corn. Use the flat surface of the corn to hold the cob steady as you cut around it to remove the kernels. Zest the lime (this is totally optional, but it will add a more intense citrus flavor to the soup) and quarter it. Pick the cilantro leaves off and discard the stems. Roughly chop most of them but leave some whole for a soup topping. Stack the tortillas and cut them in half; stack the halves and cut into strips about a quarter inch wide. Lastly, remove as many of the seeds and ribbing of the jalapeno as you see fit; the more you remove, the milder the flavor, and the more you keep, the spicier the flavor. Take a portion of the jalapeno and finely chop it then set it aside for a soup topping. After handling the jalapeno, thoroughly wash your hands, knife, and cutting board. Whatever you do, do not touch your face and eyes after handling the jalapeno; you do not want any remnants of the pepper getting into your eyes.
Once your veggies are prepped, it’s time to start cooking. Preheat your oven to 375°. Heat a large pot on the stove to medium-high and add two to three circles of EVOO to the pot. Add your aromatics—the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno. You want to cook them until they are softened and fragrant; add salt and pepper to taste. Add about three quarters of the taco seasoning packet (I really like the one from Trader Joe’s because it’s does not have a lot of sodium in it) and the tablespoon of tomato paste. Cook for a few more minutes to thoroughly combine them with the aromatics. Add the whole can of fire-roasted tomatoes, juice and all, and the entire carton of chicken broth. Bring this to a soft boil and taste it for seasoning; add salt and pepper if needed. Drain and thoroughly rinse the black beans, then add them to the pot with the corn kernels. Add the chopped cilantro, lime zest, and juice from three of the lime wedges. Continue to let these flavors meld in the pot while you work on the chicken.
Shred the cooled off chicken into bite-size pieces. There are a few methods I use for shredding chicken. If it’s a small amount, such as this one breast, you can use your fingers or two forks, pulling them in opposite directions to shred the chicken. If you doubling this recipe or just need to shred a bunch of chicken, use a hand mixer if you have one. I recently stumbled upon this kitchen hack via a Facebook video, and it’s changed my life. Check out this YouTube video to see the magic! Add the remainder of the taco seasoning and salt and pepper to taste, then add the chicken to the pot of soup.
While the soup simmers, prep your soup toppings for garnishment. Spread the cut tortillas on a baking sheet and drizzle with EVOO and salt and pepper. Toss them until they are all generously coated and seasoned. Spread the strips into one layer (you don’t want them stacked on top of each other) and bake them in the oven for about 12 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Take your knife and run it lengthwise around the avocado; twist the two halves until they separate. Use your knife (if you know what you’re doing) or a spoon (if you don’t know what you’re doing) to remove the avocado pit. Use a knife to make scores of bite-size pieces in the flesh of the avocado; be sure not to cut through the skin, and especially sure not to cut your hand. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and squeeze the juice of the remaining lime wedge on the avocado so it doesn’t oxidize (turn brown).
Now it’s time to plate! If you’ve followed me on social media, you have an idea how seriously I take my plating. Scoop a few spoonfuls of the soup into a bowl. Sprinkle cheese on top so that it melts into the broth. Add the finely chopped raw onion and jalapeno. Garnish with a few whole cilantro leaves. Stack a few of the toasted tortilla strips in the center, then top it with a few pieces of jalapeno.
The only thing left to do is enjoy the homemade soup you just created! Trust me, you won’t be disappointed, and it’s even better the next day. It will keep in your fridge for about five days and you can place it in gallon-sized plastic bags and freeze it for later.
I hope you enjoy this Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe as much as I did! Happy cooking!