Okay, I know I said I was going to be posting Thanksgiving recipes this week. I will. I’m getting there. But I couldn’t wait another day to share this with you. I’m so proud of this soup I could take a picture of it. Oh wait. I already did that.
This is Chicken Tortilla Soup and if you are lucky enough to live near a Max & Erma’s restaurant you know the addictive lure of this soup. It’s spicy and hearty, cheesy and creamy. And it’s topped with fried tortilla strips and shredded cheddar.
The tortilla in this picture? Yeah, it’s actually a wheat tortilla. Not gonna lie. I made this bowl for me. If I were making this for my husband I would have simply subbed in a fried corn tortilla. Or, as I’ve done every time I’m in a rush… tortilla chips. It’s totally NOT the same but my husband doesn’t care. He just wants it under his mouth as soon as possible.
Years ago, in the days when it took me ten times longer to cook everything because I had to re-read the recipe over and over again, I found a copycat for this soup online. When we went gluten free 3 years ago I looked at that recipe in my binder sadly thinking I would never make it again. The basis for the soup – 2 cans EACH Cream of Chicken, Cream of Celery, Cream of Mushroom, and Cheddar Cheese Soup.
Excuse me while I go vomit.
Looking back I can’t even believe we ate that. Every one of those canned soups has wheat as one of the main ingredients. But we don’t need no stinkin’ wheat to make soup! And we don’t need 8 cans of over-processed, over-salted, gelatinous yuck to start it either. We’re gonna start this the way we start all our soups. With some oil in a pot, some chopped onion, and some garlic.
…and all this other stuff (minus the pumpkin). You’ll also need a whole rotisserie chicken – meat torn off and separated into dark and white, one carrot, two celery stalks, cornstarch, cayenne, salt, pepper, chicken broth, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of diced green chiles, shredded cheddar cheese, and Half and Half. (And fresh cilantro and tortillas for frying, not shown, oops.)
To start, dice one carrot, two stalks of celery, and a medium onion. Mince four cloves of garlic.
Heat 2 Tbsp vegetable oil over Medium-High heat and saute onions, carrots, and celery until soft, about six minutes depending how large your dice is. Add in minced garlic and cook 60 seconds more. No more – you don’t want to burn the garlic. Burnt garlic will ruin a dish.
Add in 1/4 cup of cornstarch. You can see how carefully I measured that. It’s fine in this case, actually. Soup is forgiving. Mix to coat the vegetables and cook for a minute or so. Season with 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp cayenne, and some freshly ground black pepper. Don’t skimp on the salt!!!
Now, for those cans. Dump in the tomatoes, green chiles, four cups of chicken broth…and all your dark meat. Sorry for the lack of pictures. I probably had a child glued to my shin at this point. Bring up to a simmer, cover it, turn the heat down, and walk away for the next 25 minutes.
After 25 minutes, remove soup from the heat, grab your immersion blender and puree it all up nice and smooth. Don’t have an immersion blender? You can do the same thing in your food processor or blender in batches. (Small amounts at a time so hot soup doesn’t splatter out of the blender. Been there. Done that. Wouldn’t want to make that mistake again.)
Lastly we’re going to add in our cheddar cheese, half and half, the chopped white meat, and a good handful of chopped cilantro. Add the cheese in slowly so you don’t end up with one big gob of cheese in your soup. Keep your soup on Med-Low just long enough to get it back up to temp.
This tortilla has already been fried. Frying tortillas for garnish is both necessary and easy. Just heat a shallow pool of oil in a pan over Medium-High heat until the oil shimmers (but not smokes). Place your tortilla in the oil. The oil should sizzle and bubble excitedly when you introduce the tortilla. Fry it for a minute or two on each side, until the tortilla is crisp. Just don’t walk away from it and it’s fairly foolproof. Salt and drain on a paper towel lined plate. Obviously, if you’re cooking for more people than just yourself you can make as many tortillas as you want this way.
Ahh, so yummy. I love this soup. I would proudly and happily serve this to my kids, my boss, my friend the dietician – anyone looking for a hot bowl of contentment. Enjoy!
Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 whole rotisserie chicken, meat removed, separated into dark and white, and chopped
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 4oz can Diced Green Chiles
1 15oz can Diced Tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups (8oz) shredded cheddar
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
4 tortillas (corn or wheat)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Heat oil in a large stockpot over Medium-High heat. Add diced onion, carrot, and celery and saute until soft, about 6 minutes. Add in garlic, saute 60 seconds more.
Add cornstarch to vegetables and toss to coat. Cook for 1 minute more. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne.
Add chicken broth, tomatoes, green chiles, and the dark meat and bring to a simmer.
Cover and turn heat down to low. Allow to simmer for 25 minutes.
Remove from heat and puree soup using an immersion blender (or in your food processor or blender in small batches).
Add cheddar cheese in slowly, stirring to combine well. Add in half and half, all the white meat, and the cilantro. Leave on Medium-Low heat just until soup gets hot again.
Garnish with tortilla strips and more shredded cheddar and cilantro if desired.
For Tortilla Strips:
Heat a shallow pool of oil in a pan over Medium-High heat until the oil shimmers (but not smokes).
Place one tortilla in the oil. The oil should sizzle and bubble excitedly when the tortilla is introduced. Fry for 1-2 minutes on each side, until the tortilla is crisp.
Salt and drain on a paper towel lined plate.
Slice into strips.