I used to think that spring and summer would only be blissful if proceeded by months of blustery winter. And then I moved to Southern California where we have hints of seasons…yellow leaves in December, a night or two of frost in January, blazing hot days in October…but honestly, no true seasons. Today, for example, while the rest of the country is suffering with bitter cold temps and snow storms, we’re enjoying another gorgeous 73 degree day. I know, I know — you hate me right now. And can I be honest…I don’t miss winter. Like not a tiny bit, not at all. I don’t need the cold of winter to make me appreciate the warm days and I really don’t need freezing cold nights to find an excuse to cook up a pot of soup.
Tortilla soup has always been a favorite of mine. I love, love, love tortilla soup. In San Diego, tortilla soup is a brothy blend of chicken, tomatoes and avocados. It’s light and fresh and probably completely authentic…but not my favorite. My absolute favorite version of tomato soup is a bit thicker that that. I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect tortilla soup recipe for some time now. The other night I took the plunge and combined several recipes and came out with this lovely version of tortilla soup…not too thick but not at all brothy. This soup is just right, whether you are finding refuge from the cold or heading in from a day of SoCal surfing.
This recipe takes a bit of time to cook so be sure to leave yourself plenty of time…or cook the chicken the day before.
1.25 lb boneless, skinnless chicken thighs
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1-1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Onion, diced
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 can (10 Oz. Can) Tomatoes with Green Chilies
32 oz Chicken Stock
3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
2 Tablespoons blended chilies in adobo sauce **(buy one can and dump the contents–chilies and the sauce–in a blender to combine. DO NOT use more than two tablespoons…this stuff is SPICY!!)
4 cups Hot Water
1 can Black Beans, Drained
1 cup corn (frozen or canned)
3 Tablespoons Cornmeal Or Masa
5 whole Corn Tortillas, Cut Into Uniform Strips Around 2 To 3 Inches
fresh cilantro, chopped
1. Preheat your oven to 375 F. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, chili powder, garlic power and salt. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on your chicken, then sprinkle some of your spice mix on each piece. You should have plenty of spices left over — set them aside. Bake the thighs for about 20 minutes, or until fully cooked. Cut your cooked chicken into small pieces and set aside.
2. Coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil and warm to medium high heat. Add the onions, bell pepper and garlic; cook for about 3 minutes. Add in the rest of the spice mix, then stir in the chicken.
3. Add to the pot your canned tomatoes with chilies, chicken stock, tomato paste, blended chilies and adobo sauce, water, beans and corn. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 45 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally.
4. After 45 minutes, mix the corn meal with a small amount of water and add to your soup. Let simmer for another 30 minutes to let the cornmeal thicken the soup. Check the seasoning of the soup and see if it needs anything…mine needed another tablespoon of cumin and a dash of salt (more flavor but no spice). Turn to the lowest heat setting, add the corn tortillas and let cook another 15 minutes. Patience, patience!
5. Your last step — stir in the juice of one lime. Serve each bowl of soup with a generous serving of avocado added in and fresh cilantro sprinkled on top.
** standard process cleanse readers! You can make this soup with some alterations. Use chicken breasts instead of thighs, leave out the corn, cornmeal and corn tortillas. It will be a more brothy soup but the flavors will be the same.