Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken tortilla soup is one of my favorite soups. It’s quite a big statement for a chico blanco who haven’t had his first bowl until he was thirty-something. The first time I had it it was prescribed as a late-night hangover cure and it acted as a fountain of rejuvenation. I’m telling you there’s magic in that soup. I went from ♫ Ay, ♪ ay, ay, ay ♫… to cielinto lindo in minutes. The hangover was gone. It was at La Esquina in New York City and I didn’t know if it was the best version out there but I had many bowls in different parts of the country since and it’s still near the top of my list.

Call me crazy but the Frenchman in here can’t help but finding similarities between chicken tortilla soup and French onion soup. Of course there’s the extra depth from the guajillo and chipotle peppers, the Chihuaha cheese replaces the Gruyere of its French counterpart but brings equal melty goodness properties, and the baguette croutons that give the French onion that “je ne sais quoi” is replaced by an outrageous handful of fried corn tortilla chips that gives it that definite “I dont care” attitude. It’s hard to beat. Don’t skimp and top the magic potion with a couple of slices of avocado, some feisty Chihuaha cheese, cilantro and a squeeze of lime and you’ll be singing ♫ la Cucaracha.. ♪ in no time.. err… No, no I’m not singing…

  • Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

    • Serves 6-8
    • For the chicken tortilla soup:
    • 2 pasilla chile
    • 1 ancho chile
    • 1 chipotle pepper
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 4 ripe plum tomatoes, or 4 whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano)
    • 1 large white onion, peeled and sliced
    • 7 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade and with pieces of shredded chicken inside
    • 2 bay leaves
    • salt to taste
    • For the garnish:
    • 8 stale corn tortilla, for frying
    • 2 pasilla chiles, sliced, for frying
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 cup grated Chihuahua cheese (or Monterey Jack cheese)
    • 2 avocados, quartered, skin and pit removed
    • 1 small bunch cilantro
    • Lime wedges
    • For the chicken tortilla soup:
    • Remove the stems and seeds of the pasilla, ancho and chipotle chiles. Toast briefly in a hot pan or griddle until fragrant, cut them into chunks with scissors and place in a quart container. Cover with hot water and let them sit 15 minutes  to rehydrate.
    • Place the tomatoes and garlic cloves on a baking tray and place under a very hot broiler until blistered and charred. Turn the tomatoes and garlic halfway to get color on both side. Let it cool.
    • Heat the oil in a medium pot and add the sliced onions and cook over medium-high heat until they turn brown, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, discard the dry chiles soaking water and place the chiles in the bowl of a blender, along with the peeled garlic, charred tomatoes and 1 cup of chicken stock. Process until smooth.
    • Add the chile/tomato mixture to the pot of brown onions and continue to cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the mixture gets thicker. Add the remaining 6 cups of chicken stock (including shredded chicken meat if using)  and bring to a simmer. Cook for 40 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
    • For the garnish:
    • In a medium pot, heat the oil to 350’F. Carefully fry the tortilla chip strips until golden. Place on a sheet tray lined with paper towel to drain. Gently season with salt. Lower the heat to 300’F and fry the pieces of pasilla chile for a few seconds. Remove to the paper towel-lined tray.
    • To serve reheat the chicken soup and ladle into bowls. Garnish each bowl with a generous handful of fried tortilla strips, fried chile, a quarter wedge of avocado, Chihuaha cheese (or Monterey Jack), cilantro sprigs and lime. Enjoy!
Be Sociable, Share!

  • Chris

    I think I need a bowl of this now. And I can so imagine you singing! Hehe.

  • Jackie

    I am SO excited you’re back! And this looks amazing.

  • Mr E

    YES! Welcome back!! Have missed your inspiring pictures and fantastic recipes!
    Made 50 portions of that yellow-tail w/rice crispies this weekend. Did yuzu-soy instead of sesame dressing (pardon the deviation) but went down a storm!! Thank you!!

  • Oui, Chef

    Soup as a hangover cure? OK, I’ll buy that!

  • zenchef

    Oh you don’t want to hear sing, believe me! :)

  • zenchef

    Thank you Jackie! I’m so happy you’re back too!

  • zenchef

    You’re welcome Mr E! And welcome back to yourself as well!

  • zenchef

    One way to find out is to test it! 😀

  • Jim B.

    Are the pasilla chiles that you fry fresh or dried?
    SO GLAD you’re back!! I made your Five Herb Ravioli last weekend as an homage to you!

  • kitchenriffs

    I guess I need to do some detailed and extensive testing to determine how effective this really is as a hangover cure. :-)

  • Jonny at WeAreNeverFull

    I barely read what you just wrote, but I’m so happy you’re back! Seeing that cronuts post as the most recent for nearly a year was depressing me. It was a bit like rediscovering the time-capsule we made at school in the 80s that made me realize that Francois Mitterand and Maggie Thatcher haven’t aged a day (even if one of them is dead) but I am nearly forty and look like shit.

  • Jonny at WeAreNeverFull

    Look how time flies – actually they’re both dead!

  • billy brown

    It’s delicious! You have SO many amazing soups recipes & that is great that everyone wants them and they’re so popular for you. Everyone in my family enjoyed the heck out of this Chicken Tortilla Soup.