Monday, May 4, 2015

Chicken Tortilla Chili Soup

In my early 20's, I very briefly worked as a hostess at a quite fancy Mexican restaurant in New York City while I looked for a job in the theatre industry. I found a job within a month's time, so my restaurant experience was short & sweet. Though I wasn't there long, I did develop a love of the Chicken Tortilla Soup they served there and I've yet to ever find anything like it since. Because the restaurant was so upmarket, many of the ingredients were brought in specially from exotic locations, so the chance of me finding a similar soup are slim, but this soup, which is a bit more like a chili (something I also really love) just about curbs the cravings.

This isn't anything difficult or in any way spectacular… It's pretty much a chicken soup with a tomato base and seasoning, but it's really good, makes wonderful leftovers and works as a meal on its own when you need to feed a fair few people quickly and easily. The crispy tortillas work as a sort of cracker substitute and give it some stodgy, carby substance, making it more filling. I haven't added much in the way of vegetables to this soup, but I feel like it would totally work with the addition of sweet corn or even some peppers if you prefer, though it doesn't really need either… You could also serve this with some shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese on top or even a dollop of sour cream. However you choose to enjoy it, you can't go wrong - the choice is yours!

700g chicken breast fillets cut into strips
500ml chicken stock (made with a stock cube)
1 banana shallot, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoon regular olive oil
680g passata
4 small corn tortillas or 2 large ones

1. In a large stock pot, combine the chicken and the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the stock and set aside to cool. If necessary, strain fat from the top of the stock and discard. Pour the stock into a bowl and set aside.

3. Using the same stock pot, warm the oil over medium heat. Cook the shallot in the hot oil for about 5 minutes. Then add the cumin, chili flakes and garlic and cook for another minute or two, stirring to combine.

4. Stir in the chicken stock, tomato passata and dried oregano and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and get back to the chicken.

5. The chicken should be quite cool by now. If it's still hot, using two forks to shred the meat as finely as possible. If it's cool, I prefer to do this with my hands, crumbling and shredding the chicken directly into the soup. Either way, once the chicken is shredded into the soup, cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. While the soup is simmering, preheat the oven to 180°C and cut the tortillas into rough strips. Place the strips onto a baking sheet and bake for about 5 to 10 minutes or until crisp.

7. Serve the soup piping hot in bowls, with broken shards of crispy tortilla sprinkled on top. 


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