As with most cultural recipes, the variations of recipes from family to family can differ significantly. This version of Mexican Chicken Soup may be wildly different from the Tortilla Soup recipe you prefer. I took my queue's from Ina Garten on this one back in 2008 and never looked back. Over the years my recipe has taken on influences from others and even different cuisines. This my friends is my favorite version of Tortilla Soup.
2 onions, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock (You could use Better than Bouillon but for a soup this special I would opt for homemade)
2 14.5-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
6 (6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas or 3 tablespoons of masa
Cheddar Cheese, grated
Cotija cheese, crumbled
For the chicken
How much time do you have? Depending on my schedule, I could buy 4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on and bake in the oven with a homemade seasoning of salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder. A packet of taco season works beautifully too.
Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and season liberally. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes. Shred chicken with two forks and set aside.
In a hurry? Try using a pressure cooker or purchase a rotisserie chicken and pick the meat off. This works well if you plan on making your own chicken stock for the soup. Read directions on that method here.
However you chose to get there, aim for 4-6 cups of shredded chicken.
Dice veggies and saute
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery, stir and cook for 10 minutes until the onion begins to brown. If the veggies start to look too dry, add a tablespoon of butter.
Next, add the garlic, cumin and coriander seed, cook for 30 seconds. We just want to sweat the garlic, not brown it.
Add stock and build flavors
Pour in the chicken stock and the cans of tomatoes. Add the fresh jalapenos, and the tortillas or masa. Bring soup to a boil and then turn the heat down a low simmer for 30 minutes.
Taste, season and fall in love
Depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock, taste and add seasoning as needed. Add the shredded chicken and fresh cilantro. Turn off the heat, cover and let this sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
Bon appetite you may eat
Ladle into large bowls and serve with crunchy tortilla chips or strips. Set out bowls of fresh limes, sour cream, shredded cheese, sliced avocado, and fresh cilantro. Allow everyone to dress their soup the way they like it.