Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken tortilla soup encompasses all of my favorite flavors: tomatoes, fresh and dried peppers, garlic, and cumin. If I were on a deserted island and could only choose specific ingredients in my own personal cuisine, these would be them! The flavors that came out of this creation are actually quite similar to an Indian curry (minus the garam masala), which we love! This soup was such a success that Adrian and I are going to have to adjust some of our Indian curry recipes in a similar fashion. I just knowwwww there are secrets no one has told me yet, and I’m starting to think dried chilis could be one of them. Tips anyone?

When we were drawing up the recipe, we realized we really wanted to try it out with some dried cascabel chilis we bought on a trip to Mexico last year. Holy yum (!) did they bring this dish to a new level. Other dried peppers work perfectly fine (pasilla, or even New Mexico, which are a little milder), but these cascabels have a nice spicy touch that we enjoyed immensely. 

To make the recipe a little quicker, you can always use chili powder and purchase your own tortilla chips. But keep in mind that it can be really fun to process your own chilis and fry your own tortilla chips. Haven’t done that yet? Give it a try this time and let me know how fun it was!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Time: 45 Minutes
Serves 4

2 dried chili peppers, such as pasilla or cascabel, broken into pieces
4 corn tortillas, halved, cut into ¼-inch thick strips
Canola oil, for frying
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, diced
4 sage leaves
2 large jalapeños, finely chopped, divided
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh epazote, torn, or ½ tsp dried (optional)
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups (32 oz) chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
3 large tomatoes (about 1 lb), roughly chopped
1 lb chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
Juice of 2 limes 

To Garnish
1 avocado, diced
¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
Sour cream
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
4 radishes, cut into rounds, halved
1 lime, cut into wedges

Slightly roast the peppers in a medium hot skillet, turning frequently, for about 1-2 minutes. Transfer peppers to a medium bowl and soak in 2 cups of hot water for 15 minutes, until soft. Drain and set aside. 

In a large skillet, heat half an inch of canola oil over medium heat. Fry tortilla strips in batches until crisp, about 1 minute. Drain strips on paper towels and set aside.
In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat olive oil and sauté the sage until crisp, about 30 seconds. Remove sage leaves and reserve for garnish. Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes, until soft. Add half of the diced jalapeno, bell pepper, garlic, epazote, and cumin, red chili powder, and salt, and sauté for an additional 2 minutes.

Add chicken broth, chicken, bay leaf, corn, tomatoes, and chicken. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes, or until chicken has fully cooked. Remove chicken from the pot and shred with a fork. 

Using an immersion blender, blend the soup in the pan until it reaches a pureed consistency. Add lime juice and reserved chicken and cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove bay leaf, pour soup into bowls, and garnish with tortilla strips, avocado, cilantro, sour cream, green onions, radishes. Serve lime wedges on the side.