Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What happened when I wanted Chicken Tortilla Soup...

So I tried my hand at Chicken Tortilla Soup in the kitchen the other night.  The motivation for this particular dish was that I brought home a package of corn tortillas by mistake recently.  We always get flour.  Always.  But it was the end of a Costco-shop, I was tired from running errands up in the city with 4 tinies, and, I trusted that the kid I asked to grab them was paying attention.  (ha)

The Dude and I weren't disappointed, we thought corn tortillas made a nice change to our once-in-awhile quesadilla lunches (or dinners).  But the tinies were not impressed.  So here I am, stuck with a Costco-sized package of corn tortillas.  I mean, one can only eat so many quesadillas and maintain one's delicate figure (and their love of cheese!).

Two Mexican casseroles and numerous force-fed quesadilla meals later...

My thoughts wandered again to Chicken Tortilla Soup.  That lovely soup which conjures up "everything satisfying & delicious" emotions.  But I was dubious to try it.  Pretty much every recipe I've ever seen is either:  1) so durn complex that I feel hopelessly bullied into never attempting, or, 2) made by dumping numerous canned goods into a pot and heating (which cooking method I'm saving for the End of the World, you know, when we're all living in bomb shelters).  It's silly really, because when I'd been married only a few years, I ran across the Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread Cookbook.  I bought it, and studied it thoroughly before launching my soup-making legacy.  It's changed my perspective on beans, soups, and even created an unbreakable marital bond.  I am confident in my husband's stickability and committment to our marriage because I make him soups!

But I digress...

My attempt was not only successful, it was inspired.  Mostly by perusing 8 different recipes on AllRecipes.  *cough*  I wasn't satisfied with any of them, so set out with a firm step to make my own version.  It's a thick-ish soup, not watery (because Tortilla Soup should never be watery!), but there is no masa or floating used-to-be-corn-tortilla mush (because that's just gross).  And so it is - with no small amount of pride - that I now introduce you to:

*The* Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 (froz.) chicken breasts

Cook at a medium boil in a saucepan of salted water with a tsp. of vinegar (to reduce foaming).

2-4 tbsp. oil
1 onion, slivered
5 cloves garlic, pressed

Meanwhile, saute the above ingredients in a dutch oven/soup pot, until onions begin to brown. Then, add:

1/3 c. short-grain brown rice
1 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin powder
1 tbsp. oregano
ground black pepper to taste

Continue to saute until rice is toasted (a few minutes). Add about 6 cups of boiling water, and simmer on medium-low for about 30 minutes, while the chicken continues to cook separately. (Not too much water! You can always add more later, if necessary.) Then, add:

1-2 cans Rotel tomatoes – OR – 
1-2 cans of crushed or diced tomatoes & 1-2 small cans of chopped green chiles
2 cups cooked beans (preferably: pintos, kidneys, or reds – if using canned beans, drain & rinse)
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 chicken bouillion cube

When chicken is tender, remove to a separate plate and shred. Add to the simmering soup pot along with:

1-2 cups frozen corn

Cover and simmer until corn is tender. At that point, do a taste test, and add more oregano, cumin, black pepper, chili powder (and, cayenne?) to taste. I don’t remember adding any additional salt!

Top with these Homemade Tortilla Chips:

Stack 4-6 corn tortillas and cut pie-style into 8 wedges. Arrange close together on a stone (or baking sheet covered with foil), spray sparingly with Pam and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake at 400F for 8-10 minutes.

This soup was brilliant.  Legen-dary, even.  And although I am a cheese freak (hem), I didn’t add any cheese on top because I'm a firm believer that a good soup should be able to stand alone.  (But being cheeseless also serves to make the soup cheaper to cook, and cuts out some fat.)

The Dude and I meted out equal portions for leftovers-lunch today, each casting extremely suspicious looks at the other's bowl.  It was that good...


  1. I think I am going to have a go at this tonight for tea. I will leave the Tortilla Chips to dip in the soup. (I really don't like soggy things!) And I may go easy on the chilli powder and use a fresh (frozen) chilli.

    Thanks for posting.


  2. I whipped up a batch tonight ... to have tomorrow night (first day of full time work outside the home in, ummm, 14ish years!). I smells heavenly! I had a wee taste (I would have been more tempted, but I made Shepherd's Pie for tonights supper, and it just calls my name, so was full! Anyway, can't wait for tomorrow night!