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Recipe: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Prep time: depends; is your chicken stock made?
Active cook time: 35 minutes
Total cook time: 35 minutes

Ingredients
1 batch of chicken stock, or 8 cups of commercial stock
1 boiled chicken from chicken stock, or 3/4-1 lb of cooked chicken in small pieces
1 small to medium white onion, quartered (no roots)
2-4 cloves of garlic, peeled
Cilantro and oregano in an 8:1 ratio (e.g. 8 springs cilantro, 1 spring oregano), use as much cilantro as you like and adjust oregano accordingly
8 corn tortillas
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium to large tomatoes, cored and quartered
1 small to medium jalapeno, seeds removed if you want a milder soup
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced, a little less if you want a milder soup
a spoonful of adobo sauce. leave out if you want a milder soup
Salt

Garnishes
Lime wedges
Monterrey Jack or Queso Anejo
Cilantro
Avocado
Sour cream

Tools
Chef’s knife
cutting board
soup pot
food processor
baking sheet
small Tupperware
wooden spoon

Notes
I make chicken stock the day before (or earlier in the day) when I make this soup. I have not tried it with commercial chicken stock and don’t recommend it. Those stocks have so much salt that they’ll overpower your soup. Making chicken stock and this soup costs about $13 and will last you at least 6 meals. Remember that the longer you let this sit in the fridge, the hotter (spicier) it will get. You can always add spice later, but you can’t take it away. Bottom line, be careful with those chipotle chilies.

Process

  1. If your broth is frozen, defrost it.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. Core and quarter your tomatoes; quarter the onions; peel the garlic; strip the seeds of the jalapeno (optional); mince your chipotle chili
  4. Puree the tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalapeno, and chipotle in the food processor until pretty smooth
  5. In the soup pot, heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot
  6. Pour in the tomato puree mixture and cook over medium heat until it gets darker, sort of a maroon rather than red.
  7. While the tomato puree cooks, chop your tortillas into thin strips.
  8. In the small Tupperware, toss the tortilla strips with vegetable oil until lightly coated
  9. Spread the tortilla strips on the baking sheet, and when the oven’s ready, bake for 15 minutes or until they’re as crunchy as you like. You may want to shake them or turn them after a few minutes.
  10. By now, your tomato puree should be darker and should smell pretty tasty. Add the chicken broth, cilantro and oregano and cook until hot, about 10-15 minutes
  11. Put some chicken in the bottom of a bowl for each eater
  12. When the soup’s hot, ladle some over the chicken in everyone’s bowl
  13. Let the soups sit for a couple minutes, heating the chicken through
  14. Make sure you’ve pulled the tortilla strips from the oven
  15. Serve the soup with all the garnishes and tortilla strips, and let everyone add their own cheese, cream, extra chilies, whatever

Tips for storage and leftovers
Part of the reason I don’t cook the chicken directly in the broth is that I want to use some of the chicken for other things like chicken salad. Adding the chicken to individual bowls lets every eater decide how much chicken she wants. Also, if you have other meats like turkey or the carnitas from Trader Joe’s lying around, you can use those with this soup as well. Make sure you store the soup in airtight containers in the fridge or freezer; if you store it in the soup pot, you’ll end up with stew and then slush rather than soup. Again, remember that the soup will get spicier in storage.


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