From the “Just Shut Up and Cook This Department” comes this Chicken Tortilla Soup. However good you think this is it’s much better than that.
A better chicken tortilla soup
I researched and developed this recipe by reading several other recipes. I had a general idea of what I wanted to do, but it seemed something was missing from every recipe I read. All of the recipes I had read and seen called for the chicken to simply be put into a boiling pot of flavorful stock. I wanted something more than boiled chicken.
Then it came to me. I couldn't help but to think that I would be missing a good chance to introduce some added flavor by simply browning the chicken first. And so I did. That is why my broth is so dark. It may be a little off putting aesthetically, but not to worry the flavor is nothing short of incredible. Browning the chicken adds some richness and smokiness to the overall flavor.
Anatomy of chicken tortilla soup
On its face chicken tortilla soup is a simple dish. Chicken, broth, seasonings, and other flavorful ingredients all married together in a large pot right? It reminds me of my much loved gumbo. But to get a truly great soup you must introduce great flavor at every opportunity. That means using a good chicken stock instead of plain water; chicken from a local source versus something from the vacuum packed bag department in a national grocer; and a variety of beans instead of just one kind.
I found most of the ingredients for my soup at La Morenita Meat Market in Scott, LA. I love that place. I would love it more if I knew how to speak and read Spanish, but that’s another story. They have pretty much anything Latin cooking wise you could want, and the prices are excellent.
A pre-packaged seasoning blend called Fajita Sazón Rojo (Red Fajita Seasoning) by El Venado available there. Get some. Get some cumino of the same brand also.
I used skinless, boneless chicken breasts in my recipe. And while most other recipes call for shredding the chicken once cooked, I found that cutting the breasts into bite sized cubes after browning was the way to go.
The recipe yields enough for several (15-20) people. Make it anyway and freeze the leftovers. Trust me on this.
Note: The seasoning amounts listed below are merely a suggested starting point. Adjust to your desired taste.
Note: Canned beans can be substituted for dried but some flavor will be sacrificed. Just be sure to rinse the beans prior to adding them.
- 4lg. Skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 2tbsp Olive oil
- 2lg. White onions (chopped)
- 6cloves Garlic (chopped)
- 2med. Jalapenos (seeded, finely chopped)
- 2gal. Chicken stock
- 1C Dried black beans
- 1C Dried red kidney beans
- 1C Dried pinto beans
- 1C Fresh cilantro (chopped)
- 2-4tbsp Red Fajita Seasoning
- 2tbsp Cumino
- 1-2tbsp All-purpose seasoning
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 2 Limes (juiced)
- 2 Lemons (juiced)
- Lime wedges, lemon wedges, shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, sour cream, and chopped cilantro for garnish.
- 5 Tortillas (corn or flour cut into strips)
Add the olive oil to a large stock pot over medium-high heat.
Brown the chicken breasts well on both sides and remove to cool.
Add the onions and cook until browned, stirring frequently.
Add the garlic and jalapenos and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add the chicken stock, scrape the bottom of the pot, and cover.
Dice the chicken breasts.
Once boiling, add the dried beans, all of the dried seasonings, reduce the fire to medium-low, and partially cover.
Cook for 45 minutes to one hour or until the beans are tender.
Fry the tortilla strips in a shallow pan with 1" vegetable oil or fryer until golden brown, drain, and place in a plate until time to serve.
Add the diced chicken and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is fork tender.
Add the lemon and lime juices.
Taste and adjust seasoning.
Serve with garnishes.
On a cold winter’s day you will find that this soup is so delicious that it not only feeds the body, but also the soul.