Chicken Tortilla Soup

I am sorry for my absence from blogging, but all of a sudden life has gotten really busy. We only have 2 weeks of the school year left, and every little box in our calendar is full with things to do. Assemblies, performances, concerts, Christmas parties and holiday preparations have taken over my life. And it’s less than 3 weeks until we leave for our annual winter holiday in Massachusetts, which can’t come soon enough, especially after last weeks 39C (103F). It was just a few degrees cooler for the company’s Thanksgiving dinner, which didn’t stop anyone from piling into a fantastic pot-luck buffet, loaded with turkeys, hams, dozens (almost!) of sweet potato casseroles and stuffings of all kinds. Not that this will prevent me from doing it all over again this Thursday, especially now that I foolishly invited some friends over. You can tell, it’s only been just over a decade since my first Thanksgiving dinner and I don’t yet have the tired look on my face like most Americans when they think of another gigantic turkey dinner and all it’s left overs. Anyway, I am getting carried away. Today’s blog is not actually about anything related to fall or winter or any holidays, but about the fabulous Chicken Tortilla Soup I made today. Something else entirely.

I have had my last cooking session for this year today. Yeah! The ladies did a marvelous job and really got to work on the tortillas. We had about 10 left over, and since they don’t really stay fresh for more than a couple of hours, I turned them into crisp tortilla strips for a Chicken-Tortilla Soup. I got to work, checking websites and blogs for inspiration, picking a few ideas here and there and combining them all in a fantastic, super-delicious soup. I used home made chicken stock from the freezer and added left over shredded chicken, slow roasted tomatoes, corn, zucchini for a little extra nutrition and a bit of left over chard. Not necessary and definitely not traditional, but handy. A sprinkle of grated cheese, some fresh coriander (cilantro) and a drizzle of lime juice rounded it all up. The spice came in form of 2 fresh red long chillies and one crumbled up dried chili. Jalapenos would work just as well, so would cayenne pepper. I am no expert on chilies and there is a total lack of variety here in Australia, so if you know your chilies, you’ll probably know which ones and how many to use. If not, start slowly. If the soup isn’t spicy enough, you can always add some more during the cooking process.

Anyway, give it a go. It’s fast, easy and totally delicious. A definite winner which I am already looking forward to cooking again.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients

  • 10 fresh corn tortillas, cut in half, piled on top of each other and cut cross wise into 0.5 cm (1/4″) strips
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 read (Anaheim) chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 dried chili, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • olive oil
  • 20 cherry tomatoes, halved or 10 medium sized tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 large zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1 cm (1/2″) pieces crosswise
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack, mild cheddar or Fontina cheese
  • 1 handful coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded chard or kale (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 180C (350F)

Put  tortilla strips into a large bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss, making sure tortilla strips are equally coated with oil. Spread on lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Put tomatoes on separate baking tray or oven-proof dish, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 45 minutes.

In the meantime, over medium heat, saute onion, garlic, green pepper and chilies in a tablespoon of olive oil for 10 minutes or until softened. Add cumin, coriander and 1 teaspoon salt and cook for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add can of tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Transfer soup to food processor (or use an immersion blender) and blend until mixture is smooth. Return soup to stove, bring to a simmer and add corn, zucchini and chicken. Cook for a couple of minutes, before adding the slow- roasted tomatoes and chard (if using). Taste soup, add another teaspoon of salt (optional) and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of lime juice.

Place a handful of tortilla strips, one or two tablespoons of grated cheese and a little chopped coriander (cilantro) in individual bowls. Follow with a couple of ladles of soup and serve immediately.

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