Tuesday, March 22, 2011

chicken tortilla soup

This Chicken Tortilla Chipotle Soup is my favorite, go-to, cold weather comfort food. It uses chipotle peppers and fire-roasted tomatoes, which results in a deliciously tangy and smoky flavor. It really has a wonderfully complex layer of flavors -- the smokiness of the chipotle, the tanginess of the tomatoes coupled with the sweetness of corn and the smoothness of the cheese and sour cream topping... Really yummy! It's a definite pleaser, even for those not a fan of spicy food. Because the chipotle offers a smokier kind of heat versus other peppers, even my spicy-averse sister loves this soup! But the best part is... This flavorful and hearty soup is incredibly simple to make!


1 lb. chicken tenders
3 cups chicken broth
4 strips of bacon chopped (I've also used chorizo or Portuguese sausage in exchange for the bacon. The Portuguese sausage has been my fave as it's really flavorful and can be used in the soup itself)
1 small onion finely diced
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 cup of diced carrots (choose skinny carrots so you can just cut them into round slices)
1 chipotle in adobo chopped (this can be found in the Mexican food section of most grocery stores)
1 14oz. can of red kidney beans
1 10oz. can of whole kernel sweet corn
1 28oz. can of fire roasted tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Pollo de Caldo seasoning (Optional... this is a bouillon powder that I just like to add to any soup I make as it makes for a flavorful addition)

Toppings and garnishes:

Shredded cheese (I use a Mexican Blend, but you can also use a shredded smoked mozzarella)
Sour cream
Chopped cilantro (optional)
Diced avocado (optional)
Tortilla chips (I use really good, restaurant-style tortilla chips. Cabo Chips from Henry's is also a tasty option)

  • Boil chicken broth. Once boiling, add chicken tenders and boil for 5-8 minutes. Remove chicken tenders from broth and dice into chunks. Set aside. Keep broth in a very low simmer.
  • Cover bottom of a heavy pot with olive oil. I use my 6qt. cast iron pot. The heaviness of a cast iron pot really helps lock in the flavors of the soup. But you can use any pot you'd like, of course. I've just become a huge fan of cast iron cookware for the way it cooks and seals in flavors.
  • Once oil is hot, add bacon (or sausage if that's what you're using). Fry bacon until crisp. Remove from oil and set aside.
  • Add chopped onions and saute until tender and transparent.
  • Add garlic and saute for one minute. Careful not to overcook or burn the garlic as it will give off a bitter taste.
  • Add carrots. Saute for two minutes, enough to tenderize the vegetables.
  • Add chopped chipotle. Saute for one minute.
  • Add corn and kidney beans. Saute mixture for another minute.
  • Add fire roasted tomatoes. Saute for three minutes. All this gradual saute-ing really allows the flavors to combine.
  • Add diced chicken. Mix it all together and saute for two minutes.
  • If you used Portuguese sausage or chorizo, you can add them back into the pot. I don't typically add the bacon back as I don't really like the texture of wet bacon. It's up to you if you want to add these ingredients as part of the soup itself. You don't miss out on anything if you leave it out. Because we fried these in the pot beforehand, the flavors are already going to be in the soup regardless.
  • Pass chicken broth through a strainer and add to the mixture. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for a few minutes.
  • Add salt, pepper and optional Caldo de Pollo to season as you please.
  • Cover and keep on a medium simmer for at least a half hour to allow flavors to develop.

Serving Directions:
  • Place a liberal amount of cheese at the bottom of a wide soup bowl. Trust me, you'd want to use a nice wide soup bowl for this yummy soup!
  • Ladle in hot soup right on top of the cheese. The cheese should melt from the heat of the soup. This is the point where I start salivating!
  • Add crushed tortilla chips.
  • At this point, you can start eating the soup as is. But if you're like me, I like to add just a wee bit more topping.
  • Top with a bit of sour cream makes for a creamier broth and I love cilantro, so I sprinkle a bit of that as well.
  • You can also add a couple pieces of avocado if you'd like.

Trust me when I say that this hearty soup is deliciously satisfying! I made this once during a group ski trip to Mammoth. Everybody loved it for its flavorful fillingness! Perfect for warming up cold, hungry stomachs!

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