Our rainy weather this weekend combined with my wanting to feed my cold lead me to Chicken Tortilla Soup for dinner tonight. My frugal side certainly didn’t object. I have been trying to make soup for dinner a couple of times a month in order to cut down on my grocery expense. Using a book that I bought at the Chicago book festival a number of years ago: 1001 Delicious Soups and Stews, I have made some real winners.
Tonight’s soup was adapted from the Tortilla Soup in the book, however I completely forgot to take photos before soup bowls were empty so I have a photo from recipe.com. I had made this soup a number of years ago for my husband, so I knew he liked it. My daughter seems to like broth-based soups (even if she leaves all of the non-broth portions untouched) and my son has eaten every soup I’ve ever put in front of him – even somewhat spicy concoctions like the enchilada soup at Chili’s. Well, my little guy took a few bites of his and then said (in his caveman 2 year old speak), “Soup Good Mama.” High Praise! Our little girl on the other hand, came to the table crying – we never did figure out why – and refused to eat anything. I had some tangerines on the table to accompany our soup and I finally got her to stop crying by telling her she could have ONE tangerine before she tried her soup. Success! It might have been that she couldn’t have another tangerine until she had eaten “enough” soup. But there were no complaints coming from her direction as she ate it.
3 corn tortillas, cut into strips
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp. ground cumin — I use a bit less
1 quart chicken broth
1 can (15 1/2 oz.) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can green chiles
6 oz cooked chicken, chopped or shredded
2 tsp. chopped cilantro
salt and cayenne pepper
Spray a large, hot saucepan with cooking spray and saute the onion, celery, tomato, basil and cumin until the onions are soft. Add the chicken stock, 1 cup of water, beans, chiles and chicken. Heat to boiling and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer 5 minutes and then remove from heat. Stir in the cilantro and season with salt and cayenne.
While the soup is cooking, spray a non-stick pan and heat. Place the tortilla strips in the pan and spray the tops with cooking spray. Fry until crispy.
To serve: place tortilla strips in the bottom of the bowl and ladle soup over the top. Top with a squeeze of lime juice, avocado and a few more tortilla strips for garnish.
- I left out the chiles and the cayenne pepper in hopes that my children would eat it. The chiles were served on the side to be added in by the adults. In retrospect, the soup wasn’t hot with just the chiles. I could have left them in. I should have put a dash of cayenne or tabasco in my serving of soup — I’m sure my cold would have appreciated it.
- You can use left-over chicken with almost any flavoring. However, I cooked up two boneless, skinless chicken thighs for my soup: Before starting the soup, heat a pan with some vegetable oil. Salt and pepper the chicken and cook a few minutes on each side. Once the chicken is brown on both sides, pour a half cup of water into the pan and cover it. I had chopped my onions and celery while the chicken was browning, so by this point, I was ready to start my soup. Once the vegetables were soft and I had added my broth and beans, I pulled the chicken out of the pan and chopped it up to put in the pot. It dirtied another pan, but it only added about 3 minutes to my total cook time. So even though I didn’t have leftovers, this was still a quick meal to make.
- The original recipe calls for 5 cups of chicken broth. But I am frugal (or some might say cheap) so I use one box of chicken stock which is 4 cups and then add a cup of water. If you have lots of chicken broth on-hand, feel free to make all 5 cups broth.