You guys, I don’t know if you know, but chicken tortilla soup is amazing. It’s one of those things I’d only read about on other people’s blogs, maybe heard mentioned in passing, but I’d never paid it too much attention. Now, I am paying it a lot of attention. A LOT. You know when you’re eating fajitas/burritos/enchiladas and there are the really good bits of tortilla that have gone a bit soggy and chewy, and you’re really enjoying those but then you’ve got chicken and beans and salsa and cheese and sour cream all up your arm and even though it’s delicious you kind of wish it didn’t have to be up your arm? Well, now it doesn’t!
I decided this week I wanted to try this chicken tortilla soup of which people spoke, and I chose this recipe from The Pioneer Woman to base my own soup on. I made a few changes along the way, and here is my own version, which makes six to eight servings depending how big your bowls are. We’ll take this in stages, and you begin by roasting up some full of flavour chicken.
- 2 chicken legs, jointed into thighs and drumsticks, then skinned
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp homemade chili powder
- 1 tsp homemade smoked garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
Heat the oven to 200C, and lay the chicken pieces on a wide sheet of tinfoil. Drizzle with the olive oil, then mix all the spices together in a bowl. Sprinkle two teaspoons of the spice mix over the chicken – reserve the rest for later. Rub the oil and spices into the chicken evenly, then wrap the tinfoil sheet up round it to form a little parcel. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces – when you pierce the thickest part of the meat, right through to the bone, you shouldn’t see any pink running out of the chicken.
Tip the tinfoil parcel into a very shallow bowl, juices and all, then remove the meat from the bones and shred, using two forks. Mix well with the roasting juices and taste – add more seasoning if you need it. Phase one is complete.
Now we will begin the soup. Ingredients as follows:
- 1 tsp rapeseed oil
- one small white onion
- 5 ears of baby sweetcorn (are they still called ears?)
- 1/2 red pepper
- 1/2 orange pepper
- 3 cloves of garlic
- remaining spice mix from Phase One
- shredded chicken from Phase One
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 10 jalapeno slices
- chicken stock cube
- 800ml boiling water
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 3 blocks frozen spinach
- 400g tin kidney beans
- salt, to taste
First, prepare all your ingredients so they look all nice, like this:
Then crush the garlic on top of the onion, to make it easy to scrape into your soup pot.
Heat the oil over a medium high heat, then add the onion, garlic, baby sweetcorn and peppers. Stir continually until the onion begins to look transparent, then add the spice mix and stir to coat.
Now add the shredded chicken and mix well. Add the jalapenos, tomatoes, stock cube and hot water – I refilled the tomato can twice to measure the water. Be careful if you’re going to do this, boiling water + tin can = potential for fairly serious burns and then possibly scalds as you drop the can of boiling water on your foot.
Bring the soup to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and leave for twenty minutes.
Add the spinach, tomato puree and kidney beans, then simmer for a further ten minutes. After this time, turn off the heat and cover the soup while you prepare the toppings. Your soup is ready, subject to a further drop of salt if you think it needs it.
The toppings for your soup, as demonstrated in that middle photo, will be known as Phase Three. You can choose from (or use all of) the following:
- flour or corn tortillas (I had flour tortillas in the freezer, but corn have more flavour)
- very thinly sliced red onion
- chopped coriander
- grated cheese
- sour cream (actually I used half fat creme fraiche, shh)
- salsa (um… red pepper relish…)
- lime wedges
Roll the tortillas (allow one per person) into a cylinder and then slice through it to give strips. Half the longest strips, too. Now, you can choose to fry a few of these strips up for a crunchy treat to go with the soup, which I did for reasons of research and development only.
Heat a layer of oil in a frying pan until shimmering and almost smoking. Drop some tortilla strips in there and let them sizzle until browned, flipping them carefully when you start to see the edges change colour. You don’t need them to be very browned, just kind of golden and crispy. Remove (also carefully) and drain on kitchen towel before serving.
Now, ladle the soup into bowls and drop in several tortilla strips. Stir them through the soup so they can absorb all the flavours, then add a squeeze of lime juice and your chosen toppings. If there is a group of you, you could leave the toppings on the board and let people choose their own – it’ll save you some work, too.
This soup was really off the chain, I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed it and that I had never made it before. It’s like all the good things about Mexican food in one big bowl with less mess. Of course, if you think the mess is the fun part, you might not appreciate this quite so much… Also, the next time you’re making chili and can’t be bothered waiting for it to thicken, serve it as tortilla soup. Done.