Kitchen Improvisation: Chicken Tortilla Soup


After researching my cookbooks of Mexican recipes and spending an hour online sifting through various recipe archives, I decided that I would just invent my own version of Chicken Tortilla soup that is quick and easy.   I made this recipe up as I went and, let me tell you,  it turned out pretty darn good considering I only used ingredients I had on hand.

In a large pot I heated some olive oil and tossed in 1 chopped onion, 2 stalks of chopped celery, 4 small carrots that had seen better days (chopped like the rest) and 1 small chopped green bell pepper that was in worse shape than the carrots.   When the vegetables had gotten a little soft,  I added 2.75 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6 thighs) and a quart of vegetable stock (I didn’t have any chicken stock or I would have used that).  I also added a 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes, a half cup of frozen corn kernels, and 3 cloves of crushed garlic.  I turned the heat up and while I waited for the mixture to come to a boil, I added the following seasonings:

1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano, 1/2 teaspoon medium dried chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon ground celery seed, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed, 1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder (be careful with this, it’s HOT), ground black pepper and salt to taste, and a sprinkle of crushed Mexican saffron for color.    Now, for goodness sake, if you don’t have all of these spices do not go out and buy them.  The chili powder and cumin are essentials, but the rest you can just leave out.  Use Greek oregano if you don’t have Mexican.

Then the soup came to a boil, I turned down the heat and put a lid on it.

While the soup simmered, I heated about 1/2 inch of canola oil in a cast iron skillet and sliced 4 corn tortillas into strips.  When the oil was hot, I fried the tortilla strips in small batches for a few minutes until they were a little brown and crisp.   When the strips are done frying, I drained them on paper towels and sprinkled a little salt on them.  Set them aside for now.    If you can find crisp tortilla strips in the bag by all means use them.

When I finished making the tortilla strips, I pulled the cooked chicken thighs out of the pot and let them cool on a cutting board for a few minutes.  With two forks, I shreaded the pieces and returned them to the pot.

To serve, I filled a bowl with soup then added a few of the fried strips on top with a dollop of Greek yogurt.  I would have used sour cream if I had it.   A squeeze of lime would be a nice final touch but I didn’t have any.

So, I just finished my SECOND bowl.  Yes, it was that good.    This recipe makes a lot of soup.  I’m estimating about 8 servings.  I’ll let you know in about a week how many bowls I got from this.



2 responses »

  1. I haven’t tried your tomato soup yet . My computer went on a wild trip. My son had to transfer my files and think I have lost all of my e-mails that I have saved. Perhaps they will come back in this computer. I like the idea of adding goat chees to the tomato soupa and Greek Yogurt to this one.
    what do you use the rest of the goat cheese or the Greek yogurt for ?
    Thanks for posting all these recipes . I have really enjoyed them. Give me a chance to try new things with Frank. Sometimes it is hard to find things he likes to eat. Soup is always good and easy to swallow.

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