Chicken Tortilla Soup

I love chicken tortilla soup. Seriously. I first got hooked on it about 8 years ago when a deli/restaurant called McAlisters opened in the town we were currently living in. The chain itself spreads over half the states so you may be familiar yourself with it. They serve one of the very best chicken tortilla soups I’ve ever had, and if you’re feeling a little adventurous you can even get it in a bread bowl. Since then I’ve sampled many other restaurant tortilla soups, as well as recipes I’ve come across.

This one here is pretty darned good. It comes from and I made it for the first time last Saturday night for dinner. There was nothing left because I finished the last of it around midnight when I couldn’t sleep for the intense craving. I still have that craving and plan to make it again tonight- not for our dinner but just because I want some more.


Chicken Tortilla Soup

6 Corn Tortillas (6 inch)

2 T. Vegetable Oil

1 Small onion, chopped (1/3 cup)

2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 Medium Anaheim, poblano or jalapeno chile, seeded & chopped

1 Carton (32 oz) chicken broth (4 cups)

1 Can (14.5 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

1/2 t. (kosher or sea) salt

1 1/2 C. shredded cooked chicken breasts

Avocado slices, if desired

Shredded Monteret Jack cheese, if desired

Chopped fresh cilantro, if desired

1 lime, cut into wedges

  • Heat oven to 450*. Brush both sides of tortillas with 1 T of the oil. Cut tortillas in half; cut halves into 1/4-inch strips. Place in a single layer on cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until strips begin to brown, stirring once halfway through baking; cool. Strips will become crisp when cooled.
  • Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 T oil in 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook  onion in oil 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and chile; cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in broth, tomatoes and salt. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add chicken; heat until hot.
  • To serve, divide half of tortilla strips among 6 individual serving bowl; ladle in soup. Top with avocado and cheese; garnish with remaining tortilla strips and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.


How I Made This:

As usual I change things in recipes. Sometimes it is because I don’t have the specific ingredients, and other times it is because I think a step is unnecessary. With that being said, I think homemade tortilla strips are a yummy treat, but I personally don’t have the patience or the time. So this is what I did instead.

Forget step 1. use tortilla chips, which I always have in the house because they are so versatile. Start at step 2. I didn’t have any chicken ready to go so I poached 2 breasts in some chicken broth and then shredded them with forks after they’d cooled down a bit. I also can’t ever find fire roasted  tomatoes in my local supermarket so I used a can of regular diced tomatoes. In place of fresh cilantro I used 1T of dried, but today I have fresh 🙂

Now for the twist: take about 2 handfuls of tortilla chips and crush them into the soup. Let them soften and dissolve. They will add that unique tortilla flavor and a slight thickness to the broth that is more authentic. I also used a mini food processor to chop up the onion and garlic super fine. This also adds to the desired texture of a tortilla soup. I then threw in the chicken and let the whole thing simmer for a bit. I like to infuse all the flavors, and adding the chicken at the end just to heat it through doesn’t really do that.

I didn’t have any limes, but I did have an avocado all to myself because no one else in my house likes them (I know, right!??), and I served the soup with more tortilla chips. Cheese wasn’t even necessary- it’s that good! Besides, don’t add fattening calories if you don’t need the flavor enhancer.

For those who aren’t crazy about tomatoes (ie. my kids), you can always puree them and then it’ll give the soup more of a tomato-y broth. I am considering trying this just to see if I can’t get it to come out closer to McAlister’s (which is neither tomato or chicken, but a weird fusion of the two. very frustrating). Another ingredient, suggested by my hubby, is to add beans (he loves beans. I think that says a lot about him). I guess a white bean like navy, or pinto.

Try this soup and see if you don’t crave it for the next week! Enjoy!


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