Sunday, December 8, 2013

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Between the end of Daylight Savings Time and Mr. J and my work schedules, it is usually pitch black by the time the both of us are home, leading to the paucity of posts on the blog lately.  In addition to the lack of lighting, the temperatures around here have been downright cold this past week, meaning all outdoor outfit pics would just be me in a big puffy coat.  I know the chill we're experiencing here in California is nothing compared to what's going on in the rest of the country.  And yes I grew up in Michigan, and yes I went to college in Boston, but I've gotten weak people…weak I tell ya.

With the drop in temperatures, I was craving some comfort food.  So I decided to whip up a batch of chicken tortilla soup.  In college, my good friend Raudel used to make a big vat of this during the arctic winters in Boston and all it took was a bowl of this hearty soup to warm me up.  I searched online for some recipes and combined bits and pieces to end up with the one below.  It is probably not very authentic but Mr. J and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I made my own chicken broth and used the chicken meat in the soup but you could easily use store-bought chicken broth and some shredded cooked chicken breast as well.

Carolyn's Chicken Tortilla Soup

For the chicken broth:
1 small whole chicken, cleaned and trimmed
1 thumb ginger
1 onion
2 carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 bay leaf
1 tsp of ground thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

For the tortilla soup:
6 cups of chicken broth
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small can of diced green chilies
2 cans of diced tomatoes
3 corn tortillas, torn into small pieces
3/4 cup chopped cilantro
As much shredded chicken as you would like

Sour cream
Cotijo cheese, grated
Chopped cilantro
1 lime, cut into wedges
Crushed tortilla chips

Chicken broth:
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Throw in a thumb of ginger and the whole chicken.  Let water come to a boil again.  Remove chicken and discard the water.

Place flash-boiled chicken, onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf, and thyme back into the pot.  Immerse in cold water, cover, and allow to come to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.  Using tongs, remove chicken.  Separate the meat from the bones and skin.  Set meat aside to be used later in tortilla soup or in other dishes.  Return bones and skin back to the pot and simmer for 2 more hours.  Skim off the fat, strain, and voila!  You now have homemade chicken broth.  You can store in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for later.

Tortilla soup:
Heat up vegetable oil in a small saucepan.  Saute onions until yellow and translucent.  Add in garlic and chilies.  Place mixture into blender or food processor along with the diced tomatoes.  Puree until smooth.  Return to a large pot and add the chicken broth, corn tortillas, shredded chicken and cilantro.  Bring to a boil and then turn low to simmer until the soup thickens.

When ready to serve, place avocado slices into the bottom of your soup bowl.  Spoon in tortilla soup.  Top with sour cream, chopped cilantro, cotijo, and lime juice.  For some crunch, add crushed tortilla chips.  Stay warm everyone!

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