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Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup

In our house, this is the substitute for chicken noodle soup. Mrs. Cooking Dude swears that this soup is not only delicious, but kills viruses and bacteria. Maybe so, but if you need to clear out your sinuses, just increase the white pepper.

This is basically a chicken broth soup, with Mexican and Southwest flavorings and fried tortilla strips instead of noodles. The tortilla strips can either be made from flour tortillas or corn tortillas, and if you don't want to make them, use tortilla chips out of the bag.

The garnishes really make it special. I normally serve it with a wedge of lime, chopped cilantro, avocado slices, and a hard white grated cheese, either Mexican or Parmesan.

I keep a bag of chicken tenders or boneless chicken breast pieces in the freezer for lots of uses, and this soup is one of them. Many times I make this soup on the spur of the moment because it's both good and fast. This can also serve as a simple but flavorful company dish if you need to come up with food for visitors all of a sudden.

Fortunately, we also nearly always also have on hand either flour or corn tortillas (or both). If we have uncooked flour tortillas, so much the better, because in addition to the tortilla strips, I can also make fried quesadillas to go with the soup. Of course, with cooked flour tortillas, I can always make regular quesadillas, which are also a quick lunch, breakfast, dinner or appetizer, with or without meat.

Here's how you make Tortilla Soup for four:

    6 cups chicken broth, canned, instant, or home-made
    5 or 6 pieces of chicken tenders or breasts, thawed and cubed, or two whole breasts, cubed
   
1 teaspoon cumin
    1 teaspoon chili powder
   
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    1 teaspoon butter
    1 cup chopped onion
    1 celery stalk, chopped
    1 large or 2 small carrots, chopped
    3 tablespoons flour
    2 cups chopped tomatoes
    3 cloves garlic, minced, or 1 tablespoon garlic purée
    2 four ounce cans chopped green chiles
    1/2 teaspoon white pepper (add more before serving, if desired. But taste first -- this is the heat!)
    lime wedges
    chopped cilantro
    avocado slices
    grated hard cheese, Mexican or Parmesan

Start heating up the broth, cumin, and chili powder in a pot, and add the cubed chicken. While that is heating up, heat the oil and butter in a skillet.

Sauteeing Vegetables for Tortilla Soup

When the butter and oil are hot, add the chopped onion, celery, and carrot, and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently. After three or four minutes, add the garlic, tomatoes, and green chiles. Cook for another three or four minutes, and add the flour. Stir to incorporate the flour and cook for another minute or two. (Click on the small photos to see a larger version.)

Then add the broth to the skillet. As it thickens, add more broth to make a paste. Then add it all to the pot with the chicken, and stir to thicken. Let it simmer for fifteen or twenty minutes, covered, to let the flavors meld.

Making Tortilla Strips for Tortilla Soup

Meanwhile, fry the tortilla strips, make the quesadillas or fried quesadillas, or open the tortilla chip bag. Yes, you may use tortilla chips out of the bag in the soup; if they are very large you may want to crumble them. Bagged tortilla chips are normally made from corn tortillas, which is fine. You can also fry your own from cut up fresh corn tortillas.

This has to be the most delicious health food in the world!


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