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Tasty Side to Life Tours Website

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup- A Little Mexican Pot of Bliss

This soup is very easy and quick to make, relatively healthy, full of spice and very filling. You really have to try it! If my 29 year old brother, who proudly can only really cook one dish (Rachel Ray's 30 min. Turkey burgers) can make it then so can you! And... you should because it's tasty and I promise you'll make it again!

Chicken Tortilla soup is most likely a dish that you skip right over on the menu when ordering at a Mexican restaurant in the Mission in SF or at your favorite little hidden gem in your home town. I mean if you're going out for Mexican I'm sure you are prepared, and even excited, to ingest lots of cheese, corn, guacomole and grilled meats. I know.... I know.... it's hard to pass up cheesy enchiladas, mole chicken tacos or sizzling fajitas... So, you might ask who in their right mind would choose soup in such an establishment? Well, I do. I probably get a taco too but I def have the tortilla soup if they have it. This might honestly be because i LOVE soup or could be because this soup is just so flavorful, but either way I love it and created my own recipe inspired by my old roommate mom's recipe. I also was inspired by a restaurant called The Little Chihuahua in San Francisco which adds grilled corn, queso fresco and chile de arbol to the soup. Please go there and try it..

The Little Chihuahua

  • 292 Divisadero St (at Page)
  • San Francisco, Ca
  • 94117
  • Andrew Johnstone, Owner/Chef
  • ph 415.255.8225
  • fax 415.255.8353

Here is the recipe. Bon Appetite!!

The only complicated part of this is finding the hot peppers. Jalapeno peppers and Pasilla Peppers are almost always at Safeway or your local grocery. Pasillas are huge and green and pretty mild. Chile de Arbol you don't have to use but they add a nice little hint of spice to the soup. They are dried and you can buy them at any little Mexican market. If you can't find Pasilla peppers or arbols then just use a little more jalapeno. Be careful about seasoning with this soup. It's easy to either get it too spicy or have the end product have zero flavor. Make sure that you let the cumin, garlic and peppers cook for a few quick mins to generate a burst of flavor. Don't be shy with the cumin or garlic either! I just made this during a trip up to Tahoe with the family and everyone loved it. After a bike ride from Sunnyside bike rentals-- to Chambers where we had a few punches--then back to Sunnyside for drinks -- then home- we were definitely ready for some soup!

Chicken Tortilla Soup- serves 4 bowls with lots of leftovers

A couple tbls of extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion diced small
1 tomato diced for garnish
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed and minced
1/4 Pasilla Pepper diced (big green pepper that's not too spicy)
3 dried chile de arbols (little red dried chilis)
1.5 Tbls Cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1 Red Bell Pepper diced
2 Ear's of corn
6 cups chicken stock + cup of water if necessary
1 Block Queso Fresco
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 corn tortillas, cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips
1.5 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
2 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, and diced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
1 lime, cut in wedges, for serving

Place a stockpot over medium heat and coat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the chopped onions, red bell pepper, garlic, jalapenos, pasilla peppers and big tbls of cumin and oregano; cook, stirring for 15 minutes until the vegetables are cooked down and tender and the spices are fragrant. Add the chicken breast, brown it for a min on each side and then pour in the stock, season with salt and pepper, throw in the dried red chile de arbols and bring to a boil, then turn down to low, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, turn the oven on to broil and put the 2 ears of corn in the oven. Broil until corn is almost burning on all sides, flipping it a few times. Let them cool and then cut off the cob and into the soup. OPTIONAL---I don't always do the strips but its a nice little crunch...Heat 1-inch of canola oil or olive oil in a skillet over medium-high flame. When the oil looks hot, add the tortilla strips in batches and fry until they are crisp on all sides. Remove to a paper towel-lined platter and sprinkle with salt and cumin while they are still hot. Or instead of frying in a pan you can oven bake. Set the oven to 400, drizzle olive oil over the top of the strips and bake for 5 minutes.

After soup has cooked 30- 40 min quickly test a piece of the chicken to make sure it's done. Then pull the chicken pieces out and shred with fork on a cutting board. Add chicken back into the soup. Ladle the hot soup into 4 soup bowls and top with the diced avocado, tomatoes, queso fresco and fried tortilla strips. Garnish with cilantro.

I made a quick little shrimp, red onion, cabbage, jalapeno, cinnamon, cumin, oregano soft taco with a side of canned pinto beans with heirloom tomatoes, cilantro and avocado as a little side dish.

PS my mom was just trying to help me with the title and threw in how about "Senor and Senoritas chug chug chug down the tortilla soup train on your way to Sayulita.. chug chug..." Wow... wow... I think she is officially ready to have grandkids. Garrett, get moving!


  1. Sydney,

    This is the greatest literary achievement of 2009. Your words made my mouth salivate (this is one of my favorite things you make!) I can not wait until the next posting!!!


  2. I've had this soup (made by you) delicious!!!

    (please make it again.)

  3. Bravo Sydney!

    i love it all...
    cant wait to be eating your home cooking in February!

    your little hibernating mexican bear


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