Soup is good for the soul they say and I believe it. Chicken tortilla soup is one of the most representative dishes of the Mexican gastronomy and it’s one I’ve loved for ages. Also known as “sopa azteca“, which means “soup of the Aztecs,” the exact origin of this famous soup is unknown, although many assume this dish originated somewhere in central or southern Mexico, where the Aztecs originally settled.
Classic tortilla soup, the way you’d find it in Mexico City, is simply good chicken broth combined with roasted tomatoes, onion, garlic, chiles and tortillas, which are cut into strips and fried. It’s wonderfully satisfying. In California, this soup is often made with a tomato base thickened with ground tortillas. But there are many variations out there, including even a bean boded soup enriched with crunchy strips of fried tortillas.
All the many different recipe variations for tortilla soup, all have slightly different techniques and toppings. Some people make this soup topped with sour cream, fried homemade tortillas, diced tomatoes and sliced avocados. Others claim their authentic recipe includes shredded lettuce and green chiles. And some insist on using ancho chiles and chipotle in adobo for an even deeper, richer flavor. For my tortilla soup recipe I wanted quick recipe, that landed on the healthy side, and I’m incredibly pleased with the end result.
Like many other recipes on my blog, quick meals are necessary for everyone. This soup recipe is just that. I prefer (if time allows) to make my own quick chicken stock, like I do with my chicken soup with matzo balls. Whenever I make a roast chicken, I typically make a stock the next day with the bones and freeze it. But, if I don’t have that one hand, I use good quality store-bough chicken stock. In this recipe I support using a store bough roast chicken to make it super fast and easy no matter here you land on broth. Fresh corn is my preference but here, frozen corn can work just as well, especially in the cooler months when corn is not available. I skip thickening of the broth like many recipes suggest, and opt for a healthier tomato base one instead.
I don’t, however, skip on the toppings. Seriously, that may be the best part. Cilantro, crispy corn tortilla chips (store bought work completely fine, but feel free to make the homemade kind if you desire), fresh, ripe avocados and a little shredded jack cheese are essential to round off the is simple, yet flavorful soup I adore.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
- 2 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup yellow onion, peeled, minced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 5 cups homemade or good quality chicken broth
- 2 (14.5-ounce) cans fire roasted diced tomatoes and juice
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups shredded cooked roast chicken (skin removed)
- 1/2 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves (for garnish)
- 1 avocado, diced for serving
- 1/3 cup shredded Jake cheese, (optional)
- 1 cup tortilla chips, lightly crushed
- Step 1 Place a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and and when hot, but not smoking, add the onion and jalapeño and sauté, while stirring, until soft, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 30 seconds.
- Step 2 Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, black beans, chicken, corn, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper, if using, and bring to a boil.
- Step 3 Allow the soup to boil gently for about 5-6 minutes. Taste soup and adjust the seeing as need.
- Step 4 To serve, ladle the soup into serving bowls, top with cilantro leaves, avocado ,tortilla to taste, optionally garnish with avocado, cheese, and tortilla chips. Serve hot.