My “gringo hubby” loves tortilla soup and one day he decided to make some for me. He knows a lot about grilling but not much about making soup so he asked me to help him out. We started out by making a list of all the flavors we love in tortilla soup and after several tries and lots of “so, so” versions, we finally got it right.
Over the years he’s watched me cook countless meals, experiment with different ingredients and the one thing we both knew this soup had to have was roasted tomatoes and fried chiles. The combination of these two added a special kick. So for this recipe the secret technique is doing just that, roasting and a little frying. Best of all, I love that we created this recipe together, con mucho amor and lots of patience.
Tortilla soup goes great with a tall mountain of homemade tortilla strips and an ice cold cerveza.
For a meat-free option use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and omit the chicken.
Chicken Tortilla Soup (Sopa Azteca)
- 10 cups of water
- 2 chicken breasts
- 2 chicken thighs
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 4 medium tomatoes, roasted
- ½ medium yellow onion, rough chopped
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 14 white or yellow corn tortillas sliced into ¼-inch-thick strips
- 1/3 cup canola oil, for frying tortilla strips
- 2 pasilla or ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and torn into large pieces
- Pepper to taste
- 2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and diced
- 2 limes cut into wedges
- 2 cups quesadilla or asadero cheese, shredded (optional)
- Cabbage, shredded (optional)
- In a caldero (stockpot), bring water to a boil. Add salt, chicken breasts, and chicken thighs and reduce the heat to simmer until chicken is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove chicken, shred after it cools and set aside. Set aside the pot of chicken broth.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over high heat and fry the torn chile pieces quickly for about 1-2 minutes on each side. Careful not to burn the chile or it will have a bitter taste. Set aside.
- Preheat the broiler and roast the tomatoes on a cookie sheet for about 20 minutes, turn over after 10 minutes to get all sides. Tomatoes should be mushy and slightly charred when ready. Remove only the charred pieces of skin before blending the tomatoes.
- Puree the tomatoes, chiles, onion, and garlic in a blender.
- In a deep pot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat add the blended ingredients and fry for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat and fry the tortilla strips until lightly browned around the edges, about 45 seconds. Transfer the strips to paper towels to drain.
- In separate serving bowls set out the cubed avocadoes, cabbage, and lime wedges.
- Ladle the soup into bowls with a handful of tortilla strips, cubed avocados, and a squeeze of lime juice.
- If desired, add grated cheese and cabbage.
Recipe by Veronica / Photography by Jeanine Thurston