As much as I had hoped March would arrive and the thermometer would magically start climbing up above 50 (or heck, even 40) with some regularity, it just hasn't happened. In an effort to stay warm, I made soup for dinner last weekend. We don't actually eat much soup because (as you've probably heard me say 100x now) Shane really only eats meat and potatoes, which limits the recipes that will appeal to both of us. There are veggies in this chicken tortilla soup, but they're pureed and that's generally enough disguise to appease Shane :)
If you have a little bit of extra time on the weekend, you can prep this soup and stick it in the refrigerator then reheat it during the week for dinner. Don't make the tortilla strips ahead of time though - they really are best if you bake them shortly before you serve the soup (you might want to make extra, we snacked on a TON of the strips, they were good!). I know a lot of people hate leftovers, and while I agree that certain foods just don't reheat well, I consider most soups perfect make-ahead options. This recipe comes from the new America's Test Kitchen cookbook, which focuses on making recipes healthier without sacrificing flavor. I certainly don't plan to stop baking with butter, sugar, chocolate, etc. anytime soon so I try to balance the sweets with some lighter meals from time to time, and this soup fits the bill.
This was actually the first time either of us had chicken tortilla soup so we have no basis for comparison, but we really enjoyed the meal. It's just good, simple comfort food. I skimped a bit on the chipotle since I'm a giant wimp when it comes to heat and it was perfect for me. Adjust accordingly if you want lots of spiciness.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
from America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch strips
8 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (about 2), skin removed
1 onion, peeled and quartered
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
8-10 springs fresh cilantro (I used parsley)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
12 oz tomatoes (about 2 medium), cored and quartered
1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chile in adobo
1 teaspoon canola oil
optional garnishes: avocado, cilantro, jalapeno, lime wedges, sour cream, Monterey Jack cheese
Preheat oven to 425 F. Spread the tortilla strips in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Spray the strips with cooking spray, flipping to coat both sides, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until crisp, stirring the strips halfway through baking.
Add the chicken broth, chicken breasts, 2 of the onion quarters, 2 garlic cloves, cilantro and oregano to a large Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer over high heat then cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. You can verify the chicken is cooked with an instant read thermometer - it should be at least 160 F.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, and when it is cool enough, remove the meat from the bones and shred with two forks. Strain the liquid in the pot into a clean bowl - discard the solids.
In the bowl of your food processor, process the last 2 onion quarters, 2 garlic cloves, tomatoes and chipotle chiles until smooth. Set your Dutch oven over high heat and add the oil. When the oil is very hot, add the pureed mixture and cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture darkens in color.
Add the strained broth back into the Dutch oven with the pureed mixture and stir to combine. Cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the shredded chicken to the pot and continue to cook until the chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place tortilla strips in the bottom of the bowls, then ladle soup over the top. Garnish and serve.