Friday, January 6, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I like to experiment with different textures in my soups by using seasonal veggies or once in a while I drop in a handful of rice or chickpeas into the pot. This tortilla soup is packed with little chunks of chicken, cool crisp grated radishes, creamy and buttery avocado, crunchy strips of tortilla, and milky fresh cheese melting into a steaming, savory broth. Just imagine what all those textures and temperatures taste like in one spoonful! Here's how I make it.

For the stock
1 ½ lbs of chicken bones 
1 medium onion cut in half
1 garlic clove
1 medium tomato cut in half
1 or 2 sprigs of thyme
1 small sprig of marjoram 
1 small sprig of spearmint or mint
2 tsp of kosher salt
1 tsp chicken bullion
1 serrano pepper (optional)
1 small handful of cilantro 
9 cups of water

2 cups diced onion
1 cup diced tomato
1 large diced garlic clove
2 tsp of chicken bullion

Trimmings for serving
grated queso fresco (Mexican fresh cheese or cotija)
grated radishes
diced avocado
chopped cilantro
fried tortilla strips
a lime cut into wedges
cracked red pepper flakes

Have you seen those packages of split chicken breast at the market that others ignore for the more "convenient already-deboned" chicken breast or tenders?  Well, when these go on sale I stock up because they're a better bargain and because I can get two meals out of one package.  Plus, when making a stock or broth the bones hold most of the flavor.

To make the stock...

Here is what I usually do. I run my knife between the meat and the bone and save the meat for another meal because all that I am interested in right now is the bones.  However, if you want a lot more chicken in your soup just drop the entire chicken breast pieces into the pot and shred the meat once its cooked.   
Cut the meat off the chicken breast bones but leave some chicken meat on them to be used for chicken soup later on.  Place all the bones from the split chicken breast in a stock pot.  I had some chicken breast bones saved from a previous time so I'm also adding them to the pot to equal about 1½ pounds.  
I prefer to use fresh herbs but if dry is all that you have that's fine. Just keep in mind that dried herbs have a bit stronger flavor. 
Place all the ingredients for the stock in the pot and add water, kosher salt, and chicken bullion. Add enough water to cover all of the ingredients and place the pot on medium-high heat until it reaches a gentle simmer. While it simmers make sure to skim off the fat and foam that will rise to the surface. 
Once the meat on the bones is fully cooked. Pick and set aside the meat and discard the bones. Strain chicken stock through a sieve discard all of the rest from the pot. 
Return the stock to the pot and keep over low heat. 

To make the base...

To make the base, drizzle a skillet with a bit of oil and saute the diced onion for about two minutes then add the diced tomato and garlic. Season lightly with a bit of kosher salt and remove from heat once the mixture is softened. Transfer the mixture into a blender, add about 1½ cups of water, blend well and set aside.
Transfer the mixture into a blender, add about 1½ cups of water, blend well and pour it into the stock and allow it to simmer on very low heat for about 5-10 more minutes and add the chicken meat. Taste and season with more kosher salt if necessary. 

To prepare the trimmings...

Cut tortillas into thin strips. Heat some oil in a skillet and fry them until golden brown and crispy
Transfer them onto a paper bag or napkins to soak excess oil and sprinkle them lightly with kosher or sea salt. Finally Grate some radishes, some queso fresco, and dice some avocado.

Finally, time to serve! Take your favorite bowl and drop in a handful of crispy tortilla strips, some diced avocado, some freshly grated radish and cheese.
Ladle the hot chicken broth into a bowl, sprinkle with chopped cilantro and cracked red pepper flakes if you like the extra spice. If you like, top it with more tortilla strips and dive in.
Don't forget a twist of lime it makes a world of difference! 

This recipe is a combination of two recipes, one is mom's and the other is from an episode of Martha Stewart that I saw years ago. I took the best from those recipes. If you decide to try it, I hope that you enjoy it.  


  1. I love this soup!, my new favorite.

    1. I love it to, Ale. It's so comforting and it reminds me of mom's chicken soup...with a kick. =)

  2. I am so going to make some this weekend!

    1. Yey Rusty! I hope you like it! Let me know how it turns out.

  3. Yey Rusty! I hope you like it! Let me know how it turns out.

  4. Just moved this soup to the tippy top of my "must try" list!!

    1. Cathy, I'm flattered! I hope you like it. =)