I'm very susceptible to suggestion, so when Caroline told me she was craving chicken tortilla soup, I began craving it as well. Never mind that I've never actually made it, I just suddenly knew that I needed to have some.
One of the things I love about soups is that you have a lot of freedom to be very, very imprecise and still come out with a terrific final product. I become even more of a "winging it" cook when making soups, so my (perhaps not authentic) version of Chicken Tortilla Soup is really a blend of Caroline's soup, various Internet recipes (especially Tyler Florence) and What Was In My Pantry.
I started with:
- 2 chicken breasts, bone in
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 orange pepper, diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small can of diced green chilies
- 1 quart chicken broth
- 1 large can peeled/diced tomatoes
- 1 can white hominy (this was not in my pantry)
- Queso Fresco (neither was this)
- 4 whole wheat tortillas, cut into strips
First poach the chicken breasts - there may be a better way to do this, but I simply poached them with water in a deep skillet, for 40 minutes. When cooked almost to the point of falling apart, set the chicken aside to cool and then shred. Using two forks can sometimes speed up the shredding, but when it's not a lot of chicken, I use my hands. Which is why letting the meat cool is key!
Second, cut the tortillas into strips and toast them in a skillet - you can use oil to fry them if you want, or even bake them, I suppose, but I just toasted them in the pan until brown.
Dice the onion and bell pepper, and mince the garlic. Heat a few glugs of oil in a heavy-bottomed stock pot or dutch oven. When shimmering, add the onion, garlic and chilies. Saute until the onion is translucent. Add the diced red pepper and saute another 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini, saute another minute or so. Add the tomatoes, and stir. Let simmer about 5 minutes, then add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Let the soup boil for 5 minutes or so, then add the hominy and juice of 2 limes, and let the whole mess simmer for another 3-4 minutes. Ladle into large soup bowls and add heaping handfuls each of the shredded chicken and crispy tortillas. Crumble cheese on top and consider a craving satisfied! This recipe easily serves four.
(I would also recommend topping with slices of avocado. I would not recommend shopping for your avocados at the Met Food on Smith Street because every single avocado was completely unripe.)