Monday, February 3, 2014

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Since moving to Texas one of my new favorite appetizers is chicken tortilla soup.  I find it to be the most interesting thing to order as it varies greatly between locations.  Not just in quality but the ingredients, taste, texture, and toppings.  I've probably had it at no less than 15 restaurants each that was quite different from the last.  Nearly all restaurants here seem to have it on their menu... everywhere from small hole in the wall Mexican places to fancy steakhouses to Chic-fil-A has an option!  Lucky for me it's one of my favorite soups :)

I love the soup so much I have trouble deciding my favorite.  Well not my overall favorite; that honor goes to Bohana's Steakhouse downtown!  I have gone back there just to get a bowl of the soup.  I had the pleasure of taking my parents when they were in town last month and I think they would agree that this was some of the best tortilla soup ever!  Other than the deliciousness of Bohanas I find most soups to be great.  In fact I have trouble deciding how I like it best... brothy or tomato-y, avocado and cheese on top or just chicken and tortillas, spicy or mild... there are so many options.  So tonight I gave creating my own a try and it came out great.  

While this probably will not be my only recipe for tortilla soup as there are so many to try I really do love this one.  It's a little thicker than usual with a strong tomato-y flavor.  The toppings are delicious but the soup itself is amazing.  In fact I saved some of just the soup to eat later... it's the San Antonio version of tomato soup so I will serve the leftovers with quesadillas... the San Antonio version of a grilled cheese sandwich!

I think one of my favorite parts of this recipe was actually the toasted tortilla strips.  When I removed them from the oven I topped them with some coarse salt.  They were delicious snacks... I think I'm going to be making my own tortilla strips from now on because these are so much better than crunching up chips from a bag... seriously even if you don't make the recipe just make these chips!

Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

yields 4 servings
2 T. olive oil
6 fresh corn tortillas
1 medium onion, diced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno - stems and seeds removed, diced (optional)
3 cloves garlic
4 cups chicken stock
1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 small lime
1/2 T. butter
1 lbs cooked, shredded chicken breast
1 small avocado
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1/2 cup shredded jack cheese
salt and pepper

1) Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.  Slice 3 of the 6 tortillas into long strips.  Toss strips with 1 T. olive oil and spread out onto a cookie sheet in a single layer.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

2) Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a dutch oven until shiny and add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno.  Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until the veggies are soft (about 8-12 minutes).  Add the garlic and cook and additional 2 minutes.

3) Pour in the chicken stock and crushed tomatoes into the pot, turning the heat down to low.  Bring to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add 2 T. of the fresh cilantro, butter and the juice of the lime.

4) Dice the remaining tortillas into small pieces and add to the soup.  Use an immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth (alternatively you can work in batches with a blender; just be careful as the heat can cause the lid of the blender to come off and get hot soup all over the kitchen!).  Add salt and pepper to taste.  If the consistency is thicker than you prefer add in an additional 1/2 - 1 cup chicken stock to thin the soup out.

5) Serve the soup in bowls.  Top with the toasted tortillas, shredded chicken, avocado, cheese, and fresh cilantro.  Enjoy!  Are there other toppings you like on your tortilla soup?  Let me know!
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