Monday, November 3, 2008

Chicken Tortilla Soup with Homemade Tortilla Chips

I think it's finally cool enough here to make some soup for dinner! I know it's not "cold" yet, but it's not so humid outside, and I won't sweat over the stove stirring a pot. There were some corn tortillas left over from making the awesome enchiladas last week, so I decided to make this soup so they wouldn't go to waste. If you haven't made The Pioneer Woman's Favorite Enchiladas, drop everything. Make a trip to to the store, buy the ingredients, and just do it. Seriously, you are depriving yourself of real joy if you don't. Okay...back to the soup!

I love making this soup...I love all types of soup really. To me, a hot bowl of soup is the ultimate comfort food. I got this recipe years ago, and I make it at least once a month during the winter. The kids like it because they get to put chips and cheese in their bowls. When David came home tonight, he was pleased to see I had used the cilantro again from the garden.

I used the corn tortillas to make homemade chips, and baked them instead of frying them, so they're not bad for you at all unless you're on a low carb diet. If you are, run away from my blog now. My diet is probably 90% carbs so I can keep up with 4 chittlins...sorry!
And one more thing. I used chicken thighs because they are more flavorful than chicken breasts. I think using breast meat in soup is fine, but it always comes out tasting dry. You won't have that issue if you use dark meat chicken. Yes it's fattier, but fat= flavor. I'm going to show you how to make baked chips already. And there's tomatoes and heart healty avocado in this soup. So I'm trying...really I am. I know there's cheese involved, but just forgive me and make this soup already! I can't help you any more than that! :-)

Get your dutch oven or soup pot out, your favorite set of bowls, and get ready to slurp.

Chicken Tortilla Soup with Homemade Tortilla Chips

2 32 ounce boxes of low-sodium chicken broth
4-5 chicken thighs, skin-on and bone-in
1 cup sun dried tomatoes (not the kind in jars; buy the ones sold in little bags), snipped into thin strips
1 1/2 cups mild salsa
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro (I use just the leaves)
2-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 cups frozen/canned corn kernels
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and diced (see pics below)
1 cup shredded montery jack cheese (I used a mexican cheese blend)
16-20 corn tortillas
kosher salt (it's better than table salt...give it a try!)

In a large pot or dutch oven, pour in the chicken stock and bring to a rolling boil. While you're waiting for the stock to boil, remove the skin from the chicken and any excess fat.

When the stock is ready, add the chicken thighs, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 12-15 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and let cool.

Using bone-in chicken gives a richer flavor to the boxed chicken stock--trust me! I bought the chicken on sale for 99 cents a pound, so I don't mind the extra step of removing the skin to save money.

To the pot, add the salsa, cumin, and sun-dried tomatoes.

Use your kitchen shears to cut the tomato slices into thin strips--it's tough to do with a knife.

If you don't have kitchen shears, please go get some! I use them for everything, snipping fresh herbs, cutting packaging open, getting Gabriel's food into bits for him. Oh, sorry...I got off topic! Bring the enriched stock to a simmer and let it go for about 10-15 minutes to meld the flavors.

While the pot is boiling, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Don't use a knife, this soup doesn't cry for mechanized cubes of meat. It really looks so much better shredded by hand.

After 10-15 minutes, add the chicken to the pot, along with the corn and lime juice. Then add 2 tablespoons of the cilantro. I use just the leaves because I don't like biting into a stem of cilantro.

Let that all hang out for a few minutes while you make the tortilla chips. Stack the corn tortillas, and cut them into 8 wedges.

Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray and lay out the tortilla wedges in a single layer. Spray again lightly with the cooking spray and sprinkle with the kosher salt.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

Watch them carefully, you don't want them too dark. Take them out and let them cool on a plate. Repeat with the rest of the tortilla pieces. You can do this earlier in the day like I did, and store the finished chips in an airtight container until you're ready to use them.

The last thing to do is to prep the avocado. Use a sharp knife to cut it in half, and twist gently to separate the halves. Hit the pit with the blade of the knife (sorry, there was no way I could get a picture of this step), and lift it out. Now cut the flesh into cubes like this:

take a spoon, and scoop out all the pieces. If for some reason you don't get it into your bowl right away, toss the avocado with a little lime juice so it doesn't oxidize and turn brown on you.

To serve the soup, place a portion of the tortilla chips (crushed) into the bottom of the bowl, and some of the avocado. Ladle the soup over, and garnish with some more chopped cilantro and shredded cheese. If you are really trying to cut the calories, you can leave out the avocado or cheese (or both), but personally, I wouldn't. Cheese and avocados are good for you in moderation.

Have fun making this! God bless your table tonight!

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