A spicy, smoky soup that will warm you right up! Chicken Tortilla Soup, with all the toppings, is sure to become your favorite soup this winter.
Soup. Soup. Soup. That’s all I’ve been craving these past few weeks. A cozy, steaming, piping-hot bowl of soup. The kind that fogs up your glasses and forces you to take off your sweater. The kind that leaves you wiping your nose and dabbing the sweat off your forehead when no one is looking.
Yeah, a polar vortex can make you crave soup like this.
My soup pot has been working overtime this winter. And Chicken Tortilla Soup has been on heavy rotation. It hits all those spicy, smoky notes that I crave. It’s intensely flavored with chipotle chile, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime. It also comes together quickly, without a lot of fuss.
Then there’s the toppings. It’s always about the toppings, isn’t it? Crispy fried tortilla strips. Sliced jalapeno. Diced avocado. A big dollop of sour cream. A squeeze of lime. And lots and lots of hot sauce dashed on top.
If you’re pressed for time (and who isn’t, really?), you can substitute tortilla chips for the fried tortilla strips. That’s what I do with this soup about 50% of the time. If you have the time, fry the tortillas until they are golden and crisp to make this soup really special.
Otherwise, Chicken Tortilla Soup is pretty straightforward. Start by sautéing some onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, chipotle pepper, garlic, and spices (chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika).
Add tomatoes, chicken broth, and chicken. Simmer for 25-30 minutes.
Remove chicken and shred on a separate platter.
Add shredded chicken back into the pot, along with cilantro. Serve with toppings. Enjoy!
- Chicken with skin and bones. When I was a little girl and my Halmoni made soup, she would tell me how making soup with bones was the very best way. As soup simmered on the stove and fogged up the windows, she would talk about how bones add more flavor and body. You couldn’t see it, but soup made from bones was full of vitamins and minerals, too. Now, as an adult, I always cook chicken soup with skin and bones. Of course, you can also use boneless, skinless chicken. Just reduce the cooking time to 15-18 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken.
- Chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce. You can find these in the Mexican food aisle of your grocery store. It’s one of those things I can’t live without, but annoyingly, you only need one or two when cooking. Once opened, transfer the peppers to a glass container and store in the coldest spot in your fridge. The peppers will keep for a long time like this.
- Spice level. Feel free to adjust the heat level to your preference. My recipe includes 1 jalapeno (de-seeded) and 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, as well as 1 Tb chili powder. Of course, I prefer spicier. But then there’s the kids. One day, one day… 🙂
A filling and savory soup filled with spicy, smoky flavors and thickened with fried tortillas, chicken, and peppers.
- 1 large onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper deseeded, diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 jalapeno deseeded, finely diced
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce chopped
- 1 Tb chile powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika smoked
- 8 chicken thighs with bones and skin
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup cilantro chopped
- neutral cooking oil
Heat large pot over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom, about 3 Tb. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, garlic, and chipotle pepper. Sprinkle spices (chili powder, cumin, paprika) over onion mixture with a pinch of salt. Saute until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Make sure it doesn't burn. Lower the heat and add more oil, if needed.
Add chicken thighs, chicken stock, and tomatoes. Mix around with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut tortillas into 2 inch strips. Fry tortilla strips in oil, stirring and flipping, until golden. Drain on paper towels and immediately sprinkle with salt.
Remove chicken onto a separate plate. Shred the meat with two forks, making sure to remove all skin and bones. Return shredded chicken to the pot. Mix and heat thoroughly. Add cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed.
Serve immediately with a generous amount of fried tortilla strips (or tortilla chips), jalapeno, avocado, sour cream, lime, additional cilantro, and hot sauce.