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Chicken Tortilla Soup
March 21, 2012
By Jennifer Chandler

Chicken Tortilla Soup

NATALIE ROOT, SPECIAL TO THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken tortilla soup is the Southwestern cousin of mom's chicken noodle soup, just with a little more kick and a crunchy topping.

This quick, no-fuss soup has loads of flavor and uses ingredients that are typically on hand. The soup doesn't take long to make. In fact, it can be on your table in less than 30 minutes. It's also an ideal way to transform leftover chicken into a tasty and satisfying dish.

Much healthier than it tastes, this broth-based soup is loaded with tomatoes, lean chicken and heart-healthy avocado. The cumin and oregano add a richness and depth to the dish without any fat. If you want a little extra kick, add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce.

I like to top mine with a few homemade corn tortilla strips, which are surprisingly easy to make. Just cut corn tortillas into thin strips and fry for about 1 minute in a skillet with vegetable oil. If short on time, use crushed tortilla chips instead. Baked tortilla chips would be a heart-healthy alternative.

Serve with a side salad or a slice of corn bread, and you have a satisfying meal.

Jennifer Chandler is the author of "Simply Salads" (Thomas Nelson, $24.99) and "Simply Suppers: Easy Comfort Food Your Whole Family Will Love" (Thomas Nelson, $24.99). She lives in East Memphis with her husband and two daughters. For more recipes and dinnertime solutions, visit cookwithjennifer.com.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Vegetable oil, for frying the tortillas

4 small (4-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1/4 -inch strips

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion (1 small onion)

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1 can (28-oz.) diced tomatoes with juice

3 cups chicken stock

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 -inch cubes

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

To prepare the tortilla strips, pour enough oil into a large stockpot so you have a quarter-inch layer of oil. Warm the oil on medium-high heat until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pot. In batches, fry the tortilla strips until golden brown on both sides, about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. Use metal tongs or a slotted spoon to lift the tortilla strips out of the pan, draining the excess oil as you do so. (The tortilla strips should be fairly stiff and crisp. If not, the oil is not hot enough.) Transfer the tortilla strips to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb the excess oil. Lightly season with salt and pepper while they are still warm. In another large stockpot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pot. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin and oregano, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock and shredded chicken. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the flavors have melded, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the fried tortilla strips, cheese, avocado and fresh cilantro. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Do-Ahead: The soup can be made the night before or frozen in advance. Just be sure to add the garnishes (tortilla strips, cheese and avocado) right before serving. Freezes well.


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