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Chicken Tortilla Soup

Venn Crawford

It’s finally getting colder, which means it’s soup season! I love soups because they’re easy to make, easy to experiment with, and the leftovers still taste amazing. One of my favorite soup recipes is chicken tortilla soup. My version was originally based on two different recipes, but in the three years I’ve been making it, it’s evolved into a delicious chicken tortilla and black bean soup hybrid.

I typically make everything from scratch for my soups, roasting a chicken and making broth from the giblets. I’ve provided a shorter version here that uses premade broth and chicken breasts. However, if you’d like to try making it from scratch, I’ve included recipes for the roasted chicken and the broth at the bottom, so skip down and follow those first.

If you’re looking to save time and/or money, you can get canned tomatoes and use a rotisserie chicken.

2 – 3 tbsp olive oil
3 green bell peppers
1 large sweet onion
3 skinned and boned chicken breast halves, chopped*
2 jalapenos (or other hot peppers)
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 6oz can tomato paste
2 cups chicken broth*
2 15.5oz cans black beans
Sharp cheddar
Sour cream
Cilantro (optional)
Avocado (sliced)
Tortilla chips

First, chop your bell peppers, onion, and jalapeno. I’m not a huge fan of jalapenos, so I typically use habaneros or serranos instead. The flavor of the pepper will slightly impact the flavor of the soup, so choose whichever one you like best. If you don’t like spicy, just use one pepper.

Add oil to a large dutch oven and heat until smoking. Add chicken, bell peppers, onions, and jalapenos. Season to taste with cumin and cayenne, then sauté for 10 minutes. Add in tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, let simmer for 5 minutes.

Strain and mash ½ a can of black beans and set aside. Strain the remaining 1.5 cans of beans. Add broth and stir in mashed black beans, then add the rest of the beans. If the soup is not thick enough, remove a cup of broth, mix with a tablespoon of flour until even consistency, and return to pot.

Bring the soup to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.

Pour into bowls and top with sharp cheddar, sour cream, tortilla chips, cilantro, and a slice of avocado.

Making the Soup from Scratch
To make the soup from scratch, remove the broth and chicken from the previous ingredient list. Instead, you will need a whole chicken with giblets, ½ an onion, and a carrot or stick of celery.

To roast the chicken, set the oven to 325. Remove giblets from the chicken and put them in a separate pot. Rinse the chicken under water (including the inside) and pat dry with a paper towel. Put about half a centimeter of water in the bottom of your roasting pan. Season inside and outside of chicken with cayenne, cumin, and salt. Put the chicken in the oven and cook for about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Add water and ½ an onion to the pot with giblets. Boil for 15 minutes, and then let simmer until the chicken is done cooking. Strain the broth, then set aside to use in the soup.

When the chicken is finished, remove it from the oven and let it cool while you cook the vegetables. Add in the tomato sauce and broth as normal. Remove the meat from your chicken and shred it into small strips. Add to the soup and follow remaining steps as above.

The drippings from your chicken can also be saved to make gravy. The chicken bones can be used to make a second batch of broth, which you can freeze or reduce into bouillon. If you would like the bouillon recipe, let me know in the comments!

Craving something different? Find more recipes here.

by Venn Crawford

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