If I had to pick one food group I love, it would have to be soup. From bisque to bouillabaisse, I love them all. Sometimes I enjoy a brothy soup, like pho or ramen, and sometimes I want something heartier like corn chowder. You name it, I’ll spoon it. There are some people out there who think soup cannot be a meal (Bryan, I’m talking to you) but I am here to disagree. I’m not here to talk about the soup in the tiny cans with names like “chicken with stars”, that’s not soup. Soup is rich, hearty, and has layers of flavor, and warms you inside and out (even when it’s a cold soup like gazpacho).
There are just so many things to love about soup. I love that it can literally be anything; you could make a soup from leftover corned beef and cabbage, or a soup from leftover pasta sauce. Do you have some extra vegetables that are looking a little wilted? Throw them in the soup!
Now, let’s talk about chicken tortilla soup, which exemplifies another thing I love about soup: how different it can be depending on who’s making it. Chicken tortilla soup can be spicy, it can be brothy, it can be creamy, it can be heavy on the cilantro, and it can have beans…ok you get my point. Well, this kind is the creamy kind. The boyfriend fell in love with a particular chicken tortilla soup in college and I have been trying to recreate ever since our first soup season together (yes, it’s fall now, and it’s soup season). It seems easy, take brothy soup, add something to thicken it- boom, creamy. But it’s not. Well one day in my restaurant one of the cooks made this soup, and it was perfect. I asked for the recipe- and then continued to modify it, and I finally came to this. The most delicious chicken tortilla soup ever, you’re welcome.
2 lbs. chicken
3 bell peppers , at least 2 yellow orange or red, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 (or more) jalapenos seeded and minced
1 large can of diced tomatoes, or 2-3 medium tomatoes seeded and diced.
½ cup masa corn flour
1 Tbs, and 4 Tbs of butter or olive oil
6 cups reduced sodium chicken stock
1 Tbs cumin
3 tsp. salt
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbs. granulated garlic
2 cups ½ and ½ or cream*
1 large handful of cilantro, chopped
Either buy cooked chicken, or cook the chicken. I bought fresh chicken, cut it into small cubes, dusted it with salt and pepper and sautéed it before I added the vegetables. You could also use a store bought roast chicken, shredded.
Sauté the onions, peppers, and jalapenos in 1 Tbs olive oil or butter until softened and fragrant. Add garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper sauté for one minute to lightly toast. Add the ½ cup of masa flour and the additional 4 Tbs of butter or olive oil. Cook for 2 minutes until a roux forms. Add the chicken stock, and stir to combine. Bring to a low boil, which will help the stock to thicken. When the soup has thickened, add the tomatoes, cilantro, and cream (or ½ and ½). Simmer for 45 minutes. Top with whatever you like: freshly made tortilla strips*, extra cilantro (if you love it like I do), shredded cheddar cheese, or even sour cream.
A few notes:
-Butter makes the best roux, but olive oil also works. It’s entirely up to you which one you use.
-If you would like the soup to be thicker, whisk together 1 Tbs masa (or regular) flour and 2 Tbs milk and add to the soup, until you have reached your desired thickness.
-Another note on thickening, I don’t like fat free ½ and ½, I think it tastes a little sweet, which is weird. If you are looking for a low fat option use fat free condensed milk, but ½ and ½ or cream will give you the best mouth feel and flavor. You could also use as little as a cup of cream and use milk for the rest.
-To make tortilla strips: cut flour or corn tortillas into strips. Heat vegetable oil to 350 degrees, and fry in small batches. Remove with a metal slotted spoon and toss lightly with salt before serving.
-Let me just leave you with this quote. “Mmm soup. I mean noodle soup! I mean soup!”