The first time I had Tortilla Soup was during a trip to Cozumel, Mexico. I went on a snorkeling tour for most of one morning, and afterwards, everyone was exhausted. To recharge the groups batteries, the tour guides had prepared lunch for us. The atmosphere for this lunch was just incredible. We were basically in a jungle kitchen, with super fresh ingredients being cooked on a 10 foot long BBQ pit. It was really a exciting experience; even more so than the snorkeling itself. I love to explore different cultures and see different cooking methods. We had a traditional Tortilla Soup that day, and it was mind blowing. I have tried over the past several years to come close to the recipe I had tasted that day, and this is about as close as I can get!
Before we start, I should say that this is not an easy meal to prepare. I find that many people take way too many short cuts with soups, and it makes a bigger difference than one may think. Timing is extremely important due to the fact that everything should be prepared in one pot to maximize flavor. As with most things in life, the time and effort really do pay off in this dish. If you have it in you, I really suggest you give this one a try, it’ll be worth it!
Here’s what you need!
- 1 3.5 lb. Whole Chicken
- 1 Can Diced Tomatoes (12 oz.)
- 1 Large Yellow Onion
- 3 Carrots
- 3 Ribs of Celery
- 2 Poblano Peppers
- 2 Avocados
- 3 Jalapeno Peppers
- 3 Corn Tortillas
- 1 Cup Canola Oil
- 1 Sprig Fresh Cilantro
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 Lime
- Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
And now we can start!
First thing first, we roast our chicken. Rinse, dry and season your chicken very well, inside and out. After all, it is going to be the centerpiece of your soup! Truss your chicken nice and tight, pop it in the oven at 450º for about 50 minutes. If you have any questions about roasting the chicken, I have a more detailed description that you can find earlier in my blog. When the chicken has cooled, remove all the meat and set it aside. Save the carcass!!
Now on to our simple stock. In a large pot, start to sweat 1/2 of your onion along with your carrots and celery in 2 table spoons of canola oil. Add your chicken carcass and your spices, then fill the pot up with water until everything is submerged. Heat the water until you see some bubbles and then bring it down to a nice slow simmer. Let the stock cook for at least 4 hours. You will want to stir it occasionally, skim off any floating bits and add some water to keep the chicken submerged. After at least 4 hours, remove, strain and reserve in a large bowl. You now have your chicken stock!
The rest is easy! In your soup pot, start to sweat the rest of your onion with the peppers. When the are softened up, you can add your chicken. I like to shred my chicken, it really works well for the texture. Now you can add your stock back into the pot along with your diced tomatoes and cilantro. Just sit back and let those flavors go! An hour at a slow simmer will suffice, but to really let those flavors release, the longer the better!
For garnish, some chopped tortilla’s fried up in canola oil add the perfect crunch. They are Mexico’s answer to the Ritz Cracker! Slice up some avocado, squeeze in a wedge of lime and you are ready to grub!
I promise all the hard work will be worth it!! Enjoy!!