I find it to be a source of great comfort that pretty much every culture, every cuisine has its own interpretation of chicken soup. The Mexican version in particular really speaks to me, scented with chilis, and spices like cumin and coriander, riddled with slightly softened tortilla chips.
In Mexico whole chilis may be used, often toasted and the crumbled into the soup. I rely on dried chili powder, pure ancho if you can find it, but in this recipe regular blended chili powder also works just fine.
Cooking the chicken breasts in the broth, enriches both the broth with the chicken, and the chicken with the broth, but if you are in a rush, go right ahead and use about 3 cups of shredded cooked chicken, maybe from a rotisserie chicken.
Frying Tortilla Strips
Frying tortilla strips could not be easier. You literally heat up some oil, and while the oil heats, thinly slice up some flour or corn tortillas. A couple minutes of cooking in the hot oil, remove them with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Salt lightly. try not to eat them all while you make the coup.
Need one more shortcut? Skip the frying of the tortillas, grab a bag of tortilla chips, lightly crush a few handfuls, and use those instead.
What to Top Mexican Tortilla Soup With
The garnishes are what make this soup so special. Do not be timid with the offerings, an assortment of shredded cheese, diced avocado, fresh cilantro, salsa and lime wedges will turn a comforting soup into a feast.
You can make the soup ahead through adding the shredded chicken and keep it refrigerated for up to 4 days. Reheat, adding the lime juice when you are ready to serve (and, of course, prep the toppings until just before serving!). But you can make the fried tortilla strips a few days ahead, and keep them in a tightly sealed container.
Other Chicken Soup Recipes:
- Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
- Spicy Thai Chicken and Rice Noodle Soup
- The Easiest Shortcut Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup
- Fragrant Chicken Tomato Soup
- Leek, Chicken Sausage and Split Pea Soup
- Red Lentil, Fennel and Chicken Slow Cooker Soup
Mexican Tortilla Chicken Soup
For the Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium-size onions chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon pure ancho chile powder
- 1 can 14.5 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 6 cups chicken broth preferably low-sodium
- Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 skinless boneless chicken breasts about 1½ pounds
- Canola or vegetable oil for panfrying
- 6 corn tortillas halved and cut crosswise into thin strips
- Juice of 1 lime
To Serve (Optional, Pick and Choose)
- 1 or 2 avocados peeled and diced
- 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- Salsa or Pico de Gallo
- 1 lime cut into wedges
- Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until tender and golden, 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin, coriander, and chile powder and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and chicken broth, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer over high heat. Add the chicken breasts and lower the heat to medium-low . Simmer uncovered (don’t let the soup come to a boil), stirring occasionally, until the chicken is just barely cooked through, about 12 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and let sit until cool enough to handle. Keep the soup gently simmering over medium-low heat.
- Meanwhile, pour the oil to a depth of 1 inch into a medium-size skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Line a plate with a couple of paper towels. When the oil is hot, add the tortilla strips in batches and fry, stirring often, until they are crisp and lightly colored, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to the plate and sprinkle lightly with salt while they are still hot.
- Shred the slightly cooled chicken, and stir it and the lime juice into the soup.
- Ladle the soup into soup bowls and top with the fried tortilla strips, along with your choice of diced avocado, cheese, cilantro, salsa, and lime wedges.
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