{ Chicken and Lime Tortilla Soup }

As I walked downstairs to get breakfast this morning, my olfactory was assaulted by the pungent aroma of vinegar. I can’t say that I altogether hated it, because I love vinegar…but why did my home suddenly smell like a bag of Herr’s salt & vinegar chips? I headed towards the kitchen and as I rounded the corner, I was greeted by both of my parents who were standing at the center island, casually canning tomatoes and pickling cucumbers… at 8 am in the morning! And let me tell you, this was no little home-ec “project”—this was a miniature factory. There were at least 75 ripened tomatoes on the windowsill, along with dozens of cucumbers and jalapenos peppers, not to mention the several cases of Mason jars that were being sterilized in cauldron-like pots on the stove. I felt like I had stepped into one of Professor Snape’s potion classes from Harry Potter.

By 10 O’Clock they had canned about 15 jars of tomatoes, pickled 9 jars of cucumbers, and made 10 or so jars of fresh salsa. Needless to say, if you’re coming to our house this month, you’re leaving with a Mason jar in hand…but don’t even think about keeping it and using it as a vase if you want salsa next summer! Anyways, when all was said and done, there were still a decent number of tomatoes and hot peppers left and I decided to look for a recipe that would put them to good use. I took out the Soup for Supper cookbook by William Sonoma and resolved to make this spicy chicken and lime tortilla soup, which turned out fabulous!

I like this recipe because the tortilla strips are used as a garnish rather than an ingredient cooked in with the broth, which keeps the soup a lot lighter and healthier. I absolutely hate when I get tortilla soup at a restaurant, and the consistency is so thickened that it resembles porridge more than broth. I also like that the chicken is cooked in advance and separate from the stock because it keeps the broth clear without all of the necessary straining (for those of you who make homemade chicken noodle soup and stock, you know what I am talking about!). Overall, there are very few ingredients required to make this soup and it doesn’t take a whole lot of time to cook—so it’s cheap and fast!

It provides the comfort of traditional chicken noodle soup, but the jalapeno pepper adds a nice unique twist. If you don’t feel like making the homemade tortilla strips (which are a little messy with the frying oil), then serve this soup over rice…or do both, as I did! When serving, I like to garnish my soup with the tortilla crisps, cubed avocado, and chopped cilantro.

Ingredients }

  • 9 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 lb boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large spanish onion., chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 2-3 jalapenos, sliced (remove and discard the seeds to make soup less spicy)
  • 1 1/2 cups seeded and diced tomatoes (I use fresh, you can use canned)
  • 6 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 6 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (do according to taste though, because amount varies if you use low-sodium chicken broth)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 12 very thin slices of lime, cut into quarters
**If you are making the tortilla crisps then you will also need vegetable oil for frying and 3 corn tortillas cut into 2″ strips!

 

Directions for Soup } In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 2 cups of chicken broth and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a low simmer. Add the chicken breast and allow to cook through (about 8 minutes), doing so in batches if needed. Note: I like to add a little salt and pepper to my chicken for additional flavor (see photo), but the recipe does not call for this and you don’t have to.

Once the chicken has cooked through, transfer to a cutting board and once cool enough to handle, cut the chicken breasts into bite sized pieces (I cube my chicken, but you can also shred it!). Set aside and discard the stock.

In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, warm 3 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chopped onion and sauté until tender and translucent. Add the garlic and jalapeno pepper and cook for another 1-2 minutes to soften. Add the chicken stock, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Once the stock boils, reduce the heat and add the chicken, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Simmer until the chicken is heated through, about 10 minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste and serve in warmed bowls with garnishes.

To Make the Tortilla Strips } Cut the flour tortillas into 2″ strips, using a pizza cutter. Heat vegetable oil (2″ deep) in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, until it reaches about 375 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, then test the oil by throwing bread crumbs into the oil….if it doesn’t begin to fry immediately, then the oil isn’t yet hot enough!Once the oil is hot and ready, add the tortilla strips, working in small batches. Fry them for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and allow them to dry on paper towels to absorb the oil!

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Flip the tortilla strips with slotted spoon, if they begin to cook too much on one side

Let the paper towel absorb the grease, and sprinkle with Kosher salt

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