There's no greater comfort food to me than Tortilla Soup. Growing up in Texas and having a life-long love affair with Southwestern cooking definitely makes these flavors speak to my soul. When the weather gets a little cold, there's hardly a substitute for the belly-filling, warming deliciousness of a hearty bowl with all the necessary accoutrement. This recipe takes Mom's version and deepens the flavors to a whole new level. Enjoy!
(Recipe serves 8-10)
1 Whole Chicken
2 Large Onions, medium dice
3 Carrots, medium dice
6 Stalks Celery, medium dice
2 Cloves Garlic, smashed
3 Ears Corn, kernels removed, save cobs
1 T. Tomato Paste
2 tsp. Cumin Seed
5 Black Peppercorns
3 Bay Leaves
5 Springs Thyme
5 Chipotle Peppers
4 Dried Guajillo Chiles, cover in warm water and let sit for about an hour, remove stems/seeds
2 14.5 oz. Cans Diced Tomatoes, drain liquid, reserve
8 oz. Green Chiles
As Needed - Salt
As Needed - Ancho Chile Powder
As Needed - Cayenne Pepper
16 Corn Tortillas
Shredded Cheese (whatever you like)
Cut 12 of the tortillas into thin strips. Place on a sprayed sheet tray.
Bake tortilla strips and 4 whole tortillas at 350 F until crispy.
Set aside to cool.
Heat a dutch oven/large stock pot. Add oil.
Season chicken with salt.
Sear all sides of the chicken and remove.
Add onions, celery and carrots and sweat.
Add tomato paste and stir until veggies are coated.
Add bay, thyme, cumin seeds and peppercorns.
Remove from heat.
In a separate pot, cover chicken with water, and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat.
Remove chicken and pour off water.
Add chicken to pot with veggies.
Add reserved corn cobs.
Cover with water and return to heat.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Cook for about 2 hours, uncovered.
Skim off fat/foam when necessary.
Remove chicken and set aside to cool. Remove skin and shred. Set aside.
Discard corn cobs.
Strain remainder through cheesecloth into another pot.
Remove thyme, bay leaves and discard.
Puree Chipotles, toasted tortillas (4), Guajillo chiles, onions/carrots/celery/garlic from stock with reserved tomato liquid (and a little of the stock if necessary).
Push through a strainer with a ladle.
Whisk puree into the stock, and bring to a simmer.
Add corn, tomatoes and green chiles and shredded chicken.
Adjust seasoning with salt, Ancho chile powder and Cayenne pepper.
Garnish with tortilla strips, diced avocado, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro and lime wedges.
This soup does freeze well, so if you don't plan on using it all, throw it into a bag/container and freeze for up to two months.