How, oh how, have I lived 30 years on this Earth – 6 months of them in Texas – and never tried chicken tortilla soup until now?! What have I been doing with my time?! Not eating enough chicken tortilla soup, that’s for sure! Last week we were craving something new that we hadn’t ever tried before. And after a little thinking, I remembered, ‘I’ve read about a chicken tortilla soup before. Sounds a little weird (tortillas in soup), but, hey, why not give it a try?‘ And so we did. My first mouthful was a Eureka! moment. I’ve found my new favourite soup! So, please please, do yourself a favour and read on for our recipe for chicken tortilla soup, and whatever you do, make it as soon as you can!
How best can I describe chicken tortilla soup?! For me at least, it pretty much contains every single thing I want out of a hearty soup, filled with all the delicious Mexican flavours you could ask for. The soup has a delicious and well developed savoury flavour, from a base of gently cooked onion, capsicum, garlic and chilli.
The soup is filled with delicious chunks of juicy and spiced chicken. Before incorporating the chicken into the soup, we covered in our ‘Mulato chilli spice rub’ and allowed it to take on all those delicious spices for half an hour before being sautéed. The result is that the chicken not only adds comforting and filling bites of protein to the soup, but also flavours the soup with its delicious spiced coating.
You can find the recipe for our Mulato chilli spice rub in our post about Smoked Beef Brisket Tacos. It’s a deep and fragrant spice rub, featuring coriander seeds, cumin seeds, allspice, cloves, pepper, salt and, you guessed it, dried Mulato chillis. If you make our full recipe for the spice rub, you will have a few tablespoons of it leftover after making the soup. Don’t waste it! Store it in your pantry and use it in our Smoked Beef Brisket Tacos, or to season any other meats or protein for cooking on the bbq. Delicious!
And, not to forgot, the soup has a deliciously unique corn flavour to it, not from actual corn itself, but from polenta and pieces of corn tortilla. As I mentioned at the top, I did raise my eyebrow slightly when I heard about bits of tortilla strips floating through a soup. But, trust me, it totally works! I’m not quite sure how, but the tortilla strips soften slightly in the soup yet still retain their integrity. And together with the polenta, the tortilla strips gives the soup the most fantastic, deep, delicious flavour. So so good!
We absolutely devoured the soup at the end of a chilly winter’s day, and have already made it twice more since then! It’s definitely become a firm favourite in our household. It’s the perfect, hearty soup for a cold winter’s night. Equally, with it’s spiced flavour and use of tomatoes and capsicum, finished with lime juice, it would be fantastic eaten on a warm summer’s night with a cold pale ale. Whatever the season, this soup is a keeper!
- 2 chicken legs, bone removed, sliced into bite sized pieces
- 2 to 3 tbsp of our Mulato spice rub (you can find the recipe for it in our post titled 'smoked beef brisket tacos')
- 1 onion, finely diced
- ½ red capsicum, diced
- ½ green capsicum, diced
- ½ green chilli, seeds removed, finely diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 4 whole tomatoes, chopped (or about half a tin diced tomatoes)
- 2 cups chicken stock
- ½ tin black beans (ie 200g black beans), drained and washed
- 1 tbsp instant polenta, mixed with a little water to form a thick paste
- 6 mini or 3 regular sized corn tortillas, sliced into strips
- (To serve, optional) natural yoghurt or sour cream
- (To serve, optional) squeeze of lime juice
- (To serve, optional) mild feta or ricotta, or some grated cheddar
- (To serve, optional) fresh coriander leaves
- (To serve, optional) crumbled corn chips or crumbled fried tortilla strips
- Place the sliced chicken in a mixing bowl. Season with one to two tablespoons of the spice mix (enough to cover the chicken). Stir to cover thoroughly. Allow to sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Place a medium sized, heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add a good lug of oil. Once warm, place the chicken in the pan and fry until brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Place the pan back over the heat (medium heat). Add another lug of oil. Place the onion and capsicums in the pan, and stir and sauté until they slightly soften and brown (about five minutes). Then add the green chilli and garlic, and sauté (stirring) for another minute. Return the browned chicken to the pan.
- Add a tablespoon of the remaining spice mix, the tomato paste, the bay leaf and the cinnamon quill. Stir the mixture to bring out the fragrance of the spices and to thicken it (about five minutes).
- Add the tomatoes, chicken stock and black beans to the pan. Bring to a soft simmer. Place a lid slightly ajar over the pan. Cook gently for an hour, stirring occasionally.
- After an hour, remove the lid and taste the soup. Season with salt to taste. Add the polenta paste and tortilla strips to the soup. Stir through. Cook for another three to four minutes.
- Remove and discard the bay leaf and cinnamon quill from the soup. Eat immediately. Serve in warm bowls, with your choice of one or more (all) of the suggested toppings.