12 January 2010

Easy Tortilla Soup

I love tortilla soup. 

I really do.  It might be my all-time favorite kind of soup.  When I am sick, I would much rather have a bowl of tortilla soup than chicken noodle or even wonton soup.  But maybe that's just because this is Texas and the dish is just one more way to get my fill of those delicious Tex-Mex flavors.

I made a pot of it the other night and we have really enjoyed eating it over the last few days.  And isn't that one of the best things about soup - the longer it sits, the better it tastes???  Kind of like lasagna. 

By no means is the recipe below supposed to be considered gourmet or homemade.  I know it's not the best tortilla soup recipe out there, but it's the one I use time and time again because it's quick, healthy, freezes beautifully and I always seem to have the ingredients (or at least suitable substitutes) on hand.  This has become my "go-to" soup recipe.

E's Tortilla Soup

1 large chicken breast, bone-in and skin on
1/2 onion ,chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/3 to 1/2 bell pepper chopped (or jalepenos)
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
32 oz container of your favorite chicken broth
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes and chilis ("Rotel")
1 cup frozen super sweet corn
Olive oil, S & P, lemon pepper, other favorite spices
Season the chicken breast liberally with salt and lemon pepper.  Place seasoned chicken in soup pot, add just enough water to cover.  Bring it to a simmer, then lower the heat so the liquid is barely bubbling.  Partially cover and cook 20 - 25 minutes.  When pierced with a fork, the juices should be clear.  Be careful to not cook it too long and dry it out - it can become tough and nasty in a hurry.  (I know this because I have done it.  More than once.)  Remove the poached chicken and allow it to cool a bit before discarding the skin and shredding the meat. 
Reserve a little of the fat from the top, but pour out the liquid.  Add the reserved fat back in along with some olive oil (about 2 tablespoons).  Increase the heat to medium high and drop in the carrots, celery, onion and bell pepper.  Season with S & P.  Cook for a few minutes, allowing the vegetables to soften a bit, then add in the garlic.  Cook another minute or two.
Add in the broth, beans, Rotel and shredded chicken.  Bring to a gentle boil and then reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer at least 15 minutes.  Add in the frozen corn about 5 minutes before you plan on serving the soup.
I love serving it with a little chopped cilantro, a few slices of avacado, some strips of toasted corn tortillas, a dollop of crema Mexicana and squeeze of fresh lime.

For you beer lovers out there, it pairs very nicely with a cold Negra Modelo.

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