I can’t believe I haven’t done a post on Tortilla Soup before. It is absolutely one of my favorite soups on the planet. A bit spicy, a bit tangy with lime juice, tomatoey-chickeny broth…and all my favorite toppings, including tortilla chips. This soup is great with or without the actual shredded chicken, but use the best quality chicken broth possible, homemade if you can. You don’t want to compromise this because of funky chicken broth. The best part is that it’s really, really easy to make. You can simplify even more by adding the corn straight to the soup (or not at all) and just topping with avocado instead of making a relish (or salsa? what’s the difference?), but I figured I’d have a little fun with it. If that’s not your idea of fun, well, I get it. I’m a weirdo.

Like most soups, this gets even better a day or two later, so make a big batch and take it for lunch. Recipe after the jump.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
serves 6

6 c. chicken stock
1 28oz. can of tomatoes, whole or crushed
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 poblano peppers chopped; skin, seeds & ribs removed
1 jalapeno pepper chopped; skin, seeds & ribs removed (if you like it spicier, add a second jalapeno)
1/2 red bell pepper chopped, seeds & ribs removed
salt to taste

Toppings:
sour cream
lime juice
cilantro
cheddar cheese
tortilla chips
corn & avocado relish (recipe below)

To prep the peppers, place them under the broiler and turn every few minutes until they are charred on all sides. Put them in a paper bag and let them steam for 5 minutes. When cool, peel the skin off (this should be pretty easy), then remove the stem, seeds and ribs, and chop.

In a heavy soup pot, add a splash of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, and peppers (red, poblano, and jalapeno). Stir occasionally and cook until the onions and garlic have softened, about 5 minutes. Do not brown. Add the can of tomatoes (crushing the tomatoes with your hands as you add, if they are whole) and the chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Add the chicken breasts and adjust the heat so the soup is at a steady simmer. Put the lid on and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the chicken breasts are cooked through. Remove the chicken breasts, and when cool enough to handle (or with 2 forks), shred the meat and set aside. Adjust the salt to taste. Using an immersion blender, or very carefully in a regular blender (beware the steam), blend the soup until mostly smooth. Some veggie chunks left are OK. Add the shredded chicken back to the soup.

To serve, add a handful of crushed tortilla chips to the bottom of a bowl and ladle soup on top. Top with shredded cheese, then the relish, sour cream, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.

Corn & Avocado Relish

1 large avocado, diced
1 cup of corn kernels (fresh, frozen or canned)
1/2 red bell pepper
cilantro
juice of 1 lime
salt

Add a splash of neutral oil (like corn or vegetable) to a nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add the corn (if using canned, drain first). Let the corn cook until it begins to caramelize slightly and brown a bit. Remove from heat and add to a medium bowl. Once the corn has cooled a bit, add the red peppers. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Right before serving, dice the avocado and chop the cilantro and add to the bowl, along with the juice of one lime. Salt to taste.