Thursday, January 19, 2012

Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

It’s Mexican night! Growing up my family ate a lot of Mexican food. We had tacos, fajitas, casseroles, torta (which is this stacked enchilada- type thing), but we didn’t have tortilla soup! And since it has become one of my favorite Mexican foods to make for dinner. I created this one after cleaning out my pantry and fridge today. ( No really. If you look you probably have this stuff, too…somewhere.)

This soup is all about texture. It is broth based, but the garnishes are really what make it great. I suggest splurging and buying some queso fresco. It is a salty, mild crumbly Mexican cheese that might be with the regular cheeses, but is more likely located in the “specialty cheese” section near the deli. It is just so much tastier than shredded cheese and it won’t glump at the bottom of your bowl. I also used Rotel tomatoes, but if you have another diced tomato with chilies to use,  just be sure to drain it first.  This will also work with any cut of chicken. As always, substitute at will :)

Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 lb. chicken breast, cut into thin strips
6 cups chicken broth
1 yellow onion, diced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded, de-ribbed and minced
10 oz can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 clove garlic, minced

Tortilla strips:
8 small corn tortillas
Canola oil

Suggested Garnishes:
Green onion, diced; Fresh cilantro, chopped; Lime wedges; 4 oz Queso Fresco, crumbled; ½ slightly green avocado (You want a firmer one so it holds together in the soup.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large soup pot, cook the onions until translucent. Add the chicken, garlic and jalapeno and sauté until the chicken is no longer pink. Add the Rotel tomatoes and the chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt, if needed.

While the soup is cooking, lay the corn tortillas on a cutting board. Spray or brush the top of each tortilla with canola oil and stack into a tower. Cut the tortilla stack in half. Then slice ¼ inch wide strips through the stack. Spread out evenly on a cookie sheet with edges. ( You don’t want these to end up on the bottom of your oven. Trust me.) Toast for about 10 minutes. Then flip and toast the other side until crispy ( about 5 minutes).
*So—you could skip this whole toasting of the tortillas thing and use chips. I’ve done it. But the strips are REALLY yummy. It sounds more complicated than it is.

Prepare the garnishes. Crumble the cheese with your fingers. Ladle the soup in bowls and let your guests dress-up their soup. Don’t’ forget to squeeze a little lime juice on the top. Crack open a beer. Done. Simple, healthy and tasty.

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