Chicken Tortilla Soup

I’ve had the chicken tortilla soup at Eva’s twice, and it’s consistently good. Like, really, really good. Like, I’m-seriously-considering-seconds good. Her broth is rich and flavorful, her tortillas stay crispy, and her garnishes are perfectly proportioned. 

So what’s the secret? Honestly, I think it's Eva’s black magic in the kitchen. While I can’t recreate her sorcery, I can at least try to replicate it. I mean, I'm a keen and capable cook. A little of this, a little of that, a pinch of a few other things and voila! I've cloned Eva's soup. Right?

The thing is, grocery shopping in San Pancho can prove to be somewhat of an… adventure, we’ll call it. My requests for chili powder and cumin were met with raised eyebrows, and I made a total of four stops to get the ingredients I’ve listed below. Cooking blind and without my default ingredients was challenging. But the results? A viable contender to Eva’s delicious soup. 

 As always, I invite you to add, subtract and substitute as you see fit. Want more fire? Add more chiles. Don't get along with raw onion? Try green onion or chives instead. Like black beans more than pintos? Go for it. Mi receta es su receta. Enjoy! 

CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP

1 lb. chicken breast, cut into large chunks

Marinade of your choice (I used achiote

1 medium onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 small red bell pepper, seeded & diced

1 small poblano pepper, seeded & diced

2 jalapeños, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small can tomato sauce with garlic & oregano

3 roma tomatoes, diced

4 cups water + 2 cubes chicken bouillon OR 4 cups chicken stock

1 can pinto beans, rinsed & drained 

Salt & pepper to taste

Thick-cut tortilla chips

Olive oil

Garnishes: minced purple onion, minced cilantro, crema/sour cream, lime wedges, sliced avocado, shredded cheese, your favorite hot sauce 

In a large soup pot, heat 2 swirls of olive oil over medium heat. Add the marinated chicken and cook until the chicken is seared on both sides and just cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Allow the chicken to cool to room temperature. 

In the same pan with the brown bits from the chicken, add two more swirls of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, red bell pepper, poblano and jalapeños. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté the vegetables until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds more. 

Add the tomato sauce and roma tomatoes, stirring to combine. When the tomato sauce begins to simmer, add the water/chicken bouillon OR the chicken stock, whichever you’re using. Adjust the seasonings. Cover and bring to a simmer. 

While the soup is simmering, shred the chicken with either two forks or your fingers. Add the shredded chicken and the pinto beans to the pot and continue to simmer for about half an hour. Adjust the seasonings again. 

Serve the soup with a handful (or two!) or crushed tortilla chips, a dollop of crema/sour cream, sliced avocado, shredded cheese, minced onion, minced cilantro, a lime wedge and as much hot sauce as you can handle.