My favorite chicken tortilla soup recipe

You know how your parents seem to make everything better than you can, no matter how hard you try? My mom makes an incredible Greek salad dressing that I've been trying to replicate for years, but something is always a bit off. My dad can whip up the most delicious homemade lattes. (Secret ingredients: brown sugar and whipping cream. No one said it was good for you.) My dad also makes the most amazing chicken tortilla soup. He made it for our Christmas Eve dinner this year, and eveyone was ooh-ing and ahh-ing over how tasty it was.

So, what better way to end the weekend after my husband and I have both been sick for quite a while now? We decided to give my dad's tortilla soup a try, and while it didn't taste exactly like his does, it still hit the spot, and it cleared my sinuses right up!

Full disclosure: minus some chopping and all of the cleaning, I didn't do much here. Chef cred goes to my sweet husband. However, if I wasn't around, our kitchen would still be a mess. #cleanfreak

Like the good Texans we are, we started with some chips and salsa, as well as a local beer, Lagunitas. We've had some pretty good luck finding quality salsa out here in SF thanks to the Whole Foods one block away, and today's chunky salsa did not disappoint (we plan on trying our hand at homemade bean dip and salsa soon!). We decided to break out one of our wedding gifts, this cowboy hat chips and dip tray, for our Sunday Funday of cooking. See below for photos and scroll to the bottom for ingredients and the recipe!

We purchased nearly all of our ingredients from Whole Foods. I love the quality of Whole Foods' products, and while it can get expensive, we have found some tricks for saving during our Whole Foods trips -- mostly, we try to go for the Whole Foods brands instead of some of the others (e.g., rice, chips, etc.). Those items are usually cheaper.

Preparing the vegetables is always fun because that's what really gets the aroma kicking in the kitchen. I stepped out of our apartment to take out the trash, and when I opened the door I was met with a rush of incredible smells swirling together. The end product of the veggie chopping was pretty, as well!

Logan is pretty skilled at the actual cooking part, so I usually leave that step to him. ;) Don't these vegetables look delicious!? You can almost taste them through the screen...

And, the final product! If you like your soup a bit spicer, you can always leave more jalapeño seeds or add chili powder. It was so good that I had a second helping (as did Logan) and thankfully we have leftovers for days.

INGREDIENTS

Tortilla chips or strips (one package)

1/4 cup peanut oil or olive oil

1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds or ground cumin

1 yellow onion, chopped (1/2 cup more or less)

1 bell pepper

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 jalapeño chiles, chopped

6 cans chicken broth or homemade chicken stock

2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken or two blackened chicken breasts, chopped

up

1 ripe medium avocado

1/2 cup shredded Jack cheese

Chopped fresh cilantro

1 lime, cut into wedges

2 ears of corn on the cob, cut into thirds (or can of niblets)

RECIPE

  1. Boil the chicken breasts and shred or (better) blacken the chicken breasts and cut into bite-sized pieces. If blackening, it is not necessary to fully cook the chicken (pink in the middle is okay since the chicken will be added to the boiling soup).

  2. Heat oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. The pot needs to be big enough to hold all the contents of this recipe (and then some).

  3. Cook onion and cumin seeds in oil until onions are soft and transparent, stirring frequently.

  4. Add garlic, chile and bell pepper; cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender.

  5. Stir in broth, tomatoes, niblet corn with liquid (if using) and salt.

  6. Cover and heat to boiling.

  7. Reduce heat; cover and simmer twenty (20) minutes.

  8. Add chicken; cook another ten (10) minutes.

  9. If using corn on the cob, turn up the heat to medium-high and add the corn. When the soup returns to boiling, cook for two or three minutes, then turn off the heat.

TO SERVE

  1. Peel and pit the avocado. Cut into 1-inch slices.

  2. Crunch up a handful of tortilla strips into each of the serving bowls; pour soup over the tortilla chips.

  3. Top with avocado and shredded cheese; garnish with more broken tortilla strips and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges. And beer. Sqeeze the lime into the soup. Drink the beer. (Directions straight from my dad...)

Culotta extra: we like rice in all of our soups, no matter what it is, so we added white rice to our tortilla soup recipe. And again, to add a bit more spice, just add more jalapeño seeds and a dash of chili powder. I'm pretty sure my dad left all of the jalapeño seeds in his Christmas Eve concoction because that stuff was spicy.

What are your favorite soup recipes? Let me know if you try this one!

Also, no kitchen is complete without its perfect, adorable little helper...