Chicken Tortilla Soup

May 3, 2011

It is Mexican food week at our house.  No, not really because of Cinco de Mayo.  The truth is we just really like to eat just about anything Mexican- traditional or inspired.  We have been eating carnitas, homemade refried beans, chorizo empanadas, and now for the third time this month, Chicken Tortilla Soup.

This recipe comes from Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday.  If you have not checked out this book, you should.  It is definitely one of our favorites.  We happened across it in the kitchen of a house we rented in Nayarit, Mexico years ago.  My husband and I both loved it, and the meals we created from it so much, that we both surprised the other with a copy of it for Christmas that year.  Oops.

Chicken Tortilla Soup has a deeply flavored broth based on toasted pasilla or ancho  chiles, roasted tomatoes, onions, and garlic.  These tasty ingredients cook down into a paste, blend with chicken stock, and are poured over a pile of shredded chicken, grated cheese and then topped with crunchy tortilla chips.   The soup is creamy, smokey, and rich (without actually having any cream in it or much oil at all).  The shredded chicken absorbs the deep flavors of the chile and garlic, the tortilla adds a salty crunch.  The last time I served it, my husband announced, “I could eat this every week.”  And so we will.  You will love this.  Please make it soon and report back!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

adapted from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

serves 4

Pasilla chiles are available in the Latino aisle of the supermarket or at Mexican markets.  Ancho chiles may be substituted.  Quesadilla is a traditional Mexican melting cheese also found in Mexican markets.  Monterey Jack is a good substitute.

1 large dried pasilla chile, stemmed and seeded

one 15-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes

1 Tablespoon bacon fat or olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

3 garlic cloves

6 cups chicken broth


2 cups shredded cooked chicken (if you have raw chicken, dice ½ pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast and add 10 minutes after the broth)

Hold the chile over an open flame (I use my gas stove) for a few moments.  The skin will blister slightly and smoke.  Flip the chile and toast the other side.  The goal is to awaken the pepper, but not to burn it.  Tear the chile to pieces and toss in your blender.  Add the tomatoes to the blender.

Heat a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the fat or oil.  Saute the onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes until they begin to brown.  Add the onion and garlic mixture to the blender with the chile and tomatoes.  Blend until smooth.

Return the blended mixture to the pan.  Cook over medium-low heat for 10-20 minutes while stirring occasionally until the mixture becomes paste-like.

Add the chicken broth and stir to combine.  Cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes over medium heat to allow flavors to meld.  Season with salt and pepper.  Start with 3/4 teaspoon of salt and add more depending on the saltiness of your broth.  Add the chicken and simmer another 10 minutes until chicken is heated through. (If using raw chicken, test to ensure chicken is cooked through).

to Garnish

2 cups tortilla strips (see note) – or crumbled store-bought tortilla chips

2 cups grated quesadilla or Monterey Jack cheese

2 limes, cut into wedges

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

to Serve

Ladle soup into bowls, scatter cheese, tortilla strips, and cilantro over the top.  Give a generous squeeze of lime just before eating.

Tortilla Strips

4 corn tortillas, cut into 3/8 inch strips

1/4 cup vegetable oil


Heat oil  in pan over medium-high heat.  Add tortilla strips in a single layer.  Fry for 1-2 minutes on each side until tortillas begin to brown, but not burn.  Once browned on both sides, remove to a rack.  Sprinkle with salt while still hot.

You may want to make extras of these to snack on!

Here is a printer friendly version of the recipe: Chicken Tortilla Soup

You may also like:

Chipotle Salsa

Mexican Pozole Rojo

Tequila Lime Tart


One Response to “Chicken Tortilla Soup”

  1. Holly Says:

    We are making this for dinner tonight! Thanks for the great idea about how to put our roasted chicken left overs to good use!

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