Classic grandma’s chicken soup can be a lot more interesting and tasty when it’s seasoned with Mexican spices and stewed with corn tortilla chips or strips. The origins of tortilla soup are unclear, but many refer to this tomato-flecked chicken soup as Mexican soul food. This kicked-up tortilla soup features sautéed onions and spicy peppers combined with chicken, corn, tomatoes and black beans all simmered in a delicious broth. In Southern States and Northern Mexico there’s a tradition of topping soups. Some spicy soups are topped with diced raw onion, diced jalepeno, cilantro and lemon juice. Beef and vegtable soup is topped with spanish rice and fresh chili sauce. Homemade Mexican style chicken soup is top with fried tortilla strips, avocado chunks, lime juice and chili salsa. The result is an ultra-flavorful soup your family will love!
6 tablespoons cooking oil
8 6-inch corn tortillas, halved and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
1 onion, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 quarts canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
3 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (one 28-ounce can)
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup cilantro leaves plus 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)
1 3/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 avocado, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 pound cheddar, grated
Lime wedges, for serving
In a large heavy pot, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add half the tortilla strips and cook, stirring, until pale golden, about 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining tortilla strips. Reduce the heat to moderately low. Add the onion, garlic, and spices; cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, cilantro leaves, if using, and one-third of the tortilla strips.
Bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes; remove the bay leaves. In a blender, puree the soup in batches; pour it back into the pot. Add the chicken, bring the soup back to a simmer, and simmer until just cooked through, about 1 minute. Stir in the avocado. To serve, put the remaining tortilla strips in bowls, top with the cheese, and pour in the soup. Sprinkle your tortilla soup with the chopped cilantro, if using, and serve with the lime wedges.