The Dish | Tortilla Soup

A kid-pleaser and family favorite, this tortilla soup recipe is from my mother’s kitchen. It is simple, easy and a great way to warm up on gloomy days — a staple of summer in the Bay! Made with a base of chicken broth, flavored with tomatoes, onions, and spices, you can give it texture and crunch by adding fried corn tortillas.

When serving, garnish with your favorite toppings, such as shredded cheese, avocado, sour cream or a Chipotle Cream Topping (recipe included below). This is a versatile recipe that can be customized to your liking by adding vegetables, and/or swapping out different beans or spices. Use a vegetable broth and omit the chicken for a vegetarian option.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped; or, 1 pasilla or 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 jalape├▒o pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 6 cups chicken stock or canned, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 6 stale corn tortillas, cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips
  • 2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
  • Optional toppings:
    • 1 avocado, diced
    • Shredded cheese
    • Lime wedges
    • Chopped cilantro
    • Chipotle crema, recipe below

Chipotle Cream Topping:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • In a Dutch oven or large heavy pot, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, peppers, salt, cumin, and coriander. Stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cilantro and lime juice, and stir well. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
  • Heat the oil in a heavy pot or electric fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the tortilla strips in batches and fry until golden and crisp, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
  • Make the chipotle cream sauce: In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine all the ingredients. Process on high speed until smooth.
  • Ladle the soup into individual serving bowls. The recipe serves 4-6. Garnish each serving with the fried tortilla strips, avocado, and chipotle cream sauce.

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