Whenever my sister goes to a Mexican restaurant, she almost always gets tortilla soup. This is one of her favorite meals, and really, who can blame her? It's got chicken and cheese, all kinds of fun spices, most places even make their own tortilla strips for the soup.
I've made this before for her many months ago not knowing that when I did she was ill. Since I hadn't tried it again, I figured I was due for a second round. This may have been the only time that I've ever had all of the ingredients on hand and was able to make it without a special trip to the grocery store. It seems like a lot of ingredients and a lot of steps when you first look at the recipe, but don't get discouraged. It really is simple and worth what little cutting is required (and we all know how much I hate using knives).
One great thing about this soup: it can be tailored to anyone's taste. Love spice and heat, chop up some jalapenos and cook those with the soup. Love interesting flavors but don't care for the heat, use more of the cumin and less of the cayenne. It really is a versatile soup that can be played with to suit your own family's needs.
As for Friday, I just want to thank everyone who posted ideas. I'm keeping all of the ideas written down for my next few Fridays so I have something to work with. Tomorrow I plan on having a French evening. I plan on watching my favorite French movie, Amelie, and making Boef Bourguignon with a salad and baguette with butter. My husband's friend Daniel is supposed to come hang out which is good because he is brutally honest when it comes to other people's cooking. I look forward to sharing with you tomorrow night. For now, enjoy!
Tortilla Soup with Chicken
Recipe by Food&Wine.com
6 tablespoons cooking oil
8 6-inch corn tortillas, halved and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips (I use a pizza cutter for this and cut about 3 at a time; I also use a couple more since we like the tortilla strips so much)
1 onion, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, smashed (I also added about 1/4tsp of ground ginger here)
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (I added about 1Tbl of crushed red pepper here)
1 1/2 quarts canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
3 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (one 28-ounce can)
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup lightly-packed cilantro leaves plus 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)
1 3/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 avocado, cut into 1/2-inch dice (we didn't use this because neither of us like it; GASP! I know)
1/4 pound cheddar, grated
Lime wedges, for serving
- In a large heavy pot, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add half the tortilla strips and cook, stirring, until pale golden, about 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining tortilla strips.
- Reduce the heat to moderately low. Add the onion, garlic, and spices; cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, cilantro leaves, if using, and one-third of the tortilla strips. Bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes; remove the bay leaves (don't forget to remove the bay leaves; I did and my blender did not pulverize them at all; not a tasty surprise to have end up your mouth).
- In a blender, puree the soup in batches; pour it back into the pot. Add the chicken, bring the soup back to a simmer, and simmer until just cooked through, about 1 minute. Stir in the avocado.
- To serve, put the remaining tortilla strips in bowls, top with the cheese, and pour in the soup. Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro, if using, and serve with the lime wedges.