Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes, Soups and Stews

Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

February 8, 2010
Three different components make up this deceivingly complex Mexican staple. The first is (no mystery here) the soup—a very light, broth kept simple to highlight the chicken.
The second is a spicy, dried chile sauce that is as essential to Mexican cooking as béchamel is to French cuisine. Once you have mastered this sauce you will find endless uses for it. I cover my tortillas in it before filling them with meat and rolling them into enchiladas and dunk my tamales in it before inhaling them at rapid speed.
The third is the tortilla strips. Now you could buy tortilla chips and be perfectly happy, but why would you go to all the trouble of making this rich, complex soup to top it with crushed store-bought chips? I like to follow the rule of thumb that I can eat all the junk food I want as long as I make it myself, so for those of you who want to fry up your own tortilla chips, the recipe follows.
Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

Yield: 8-10

Traditional chicken tortilla soup recipe made with dried chiles, charred onions, and homemade crispy tortilla strips.


    For the Sauce:
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, cored and cut in half
  • 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 guajillo chiles, seeds and stems removed
  • 5 ancho chiles, seeds and stems removed
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • For the Soup:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, medium dice
  • 3 medium carrots, large dice
  • 1 6-pound whole roaster chicken
  • 1 bay leaf
  • For the Tortilla Strips:
  • 3 cups vegetable oil
  • 20 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut in half, then into 1/2-inch strips
  • kosher salt
  • For Serving:
  • avocado slices
  • lime wedges
  • chopped cilantro


    For the Sauce:
  1. Place tomatoes in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower heat to a simmer and cook until tomatoes are just starting to fall apart. Remove from heat.
  2. Place onion and garlic in a dry cast iron skillet and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly charred and brown. Remove to a blender and return skillet to heat. Add chiles to skillet and toast, stirring frequently, until fragrant and starting to brown. Place charred chiles into saucepan with tomatoes and let soak until soft and pliable, about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove tomatoes and chiles from cooking liquid (saving the liquid) and place in blender with onions and garlic. Add remaining ingredients and 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid. To prevent explosions, take the lid of the blender and remove the plastic circle in the middle. Place lid on blender and place a clean dish rag over the open hole. With one hand on top of the rag, slowly turn your blender to high and blend until a smooth sauce forms. Add more of the cooking liquid, if necessary.
  4. For the Soup:
  5. Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add chicken and bay leaf and cover with 2 quarts water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a slow simmer and cook until chicken is tender and falling off the bone, about 1 hour. 
  6. Remove from heat and remove chicken to a large plate. When cool enough to handle, tear chicken into bite-sized pieces, discarding any skin and bones. Return chicken to broth and add chile sauce to pot. Stir until well incorporated, then taste and add more salt, if necessary. 
  8. For the Tortilla Strips:
  9. Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. The oil will need to reach about 325°F to 350°F. If you don't have a deep fat thermometer, place a wooden chopstick in the oil, if bubbles cover the chopstick almost immediately you know it's hot enough. 
  11. Carefully drop a few tortilla strips in at a time, just enough so they have room to move around. Make sure you drop them in one-by-one so they don't stick together when frying. Gently move them around with a bamboo skimmer or metal slotted spoon until golden brown on both sides. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining strips. If they seem to be cooking too fast, lower the heat slightly. 
  13. To Serve:
  14. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with separate bowls of tortilla strips, avocado slices, lime wedges and cilantro so your friends can enhance their soup to their liking.

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