Chicken Tortilla Soup

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My enthusiastic attempt to start 2015 on the right foot with a 7am run has come to an abrupt halt after catching the bug that seems to be afflicting everyone. I had been feeling a little smug that I had survived the holiday season without so much as a sniffle. The Polar Vortex seems to have returned to NY – it’s ‘hunker down and rummage through the freezer’ time. Thankfully, mine is chock-a-block full of goodies that’ll keep me fed for weeks! I never need venture out again.


The best discovery was Aurora’s Chicken Tortilla Soup that she had made for me late last year as the weather was turning. The heat from Zukali’s fire roasted poblanos were just what I needed and the Ancho Chile Salt was a perfect finish for those crunchy tortilla strips. Not only delicious but filled with magic powers as I was back on my feet in no time at all and ready to start the year!


Chicken Tortilla Soup

Serves 4-6 or 8 as an appetizer


Canola oil for frying

5 corn tortillas, cut into strips 1/4″ thick

Ancho Chile Salt for seasoning tortilla strips

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 lb chicken breasts (or 3 cups shredded if using leftover)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 teaspoons cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 large white onion, diced (approximately 2 cups)

1 fresh jalapeño, deveined and seeded then minced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3 cups chopped tomatoes

2 quarts of chicken stock

1/2 cup Mexican salsa verde

1 jar of Zukali’s Poblanos (use 1 cup diced poblanos)

2 cups cooked black beans (cooked according to package instructions)



1 bunch cilantro, rinsed thoroughly, stems removed, coarsely chopped

1 bunch of scallions, sliced

1 lime juiced, plus extra for serving

1 avocado, chopped

Sour cream to taste



1. In a large skillet, fill the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of canola oil. Heat to frying temperature. To test simply add in one tortilla strip, once small bubbles start to form around the strip the oil is hot enough to go. Fry the tortilla strips till golden brown (about 2-3 minutes) and then place on a paper towel lined plate to cool. Sprinkle strips with Ancho Chile Salt and set aside.

2. In a cast iron pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add seasoned chicken breasts. Sear on medium-high heat until fully cooked and set aside.

3. In the same pot, add remaining olive oil and stir in spices (smoked paprika, cumin and cayenne). Cook about 1 minute, stirring to mix with oil then add in onion, jalapeño, garlic and tomato.

4. Cook onion mixture until caramelized, approximately 8-10 minutes.

5. Next add in stock and salsa verde. Bring mixture to a boil. Meanwhile, shred the chicken.

6. After soup mixture has boiled, reduce to a simmer. Using an immersion blender, puree mixture for about 2 minutes so that soup base thickens. 6. Add in poblanos, shredded chicken and black beans and keep at a simmer for 20 minutes.

7. Turn off heat and stir in 1/4 cup each chopped cilantro and sliced scallions. Squeeze in juice from 1 lime and season to taste with salt.

8. Ladle soup into bowls, topped with tortilla strips, avocado and sour cream. Keep extra cilantro, lime and scallions handy so everyone can garnish to taste.

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