This is a great recipe for an authentic chicken tortilla soup. As good, if not better, as what you get in a nice Mexican Restaurant. The recipe is reasonably easy too. Always a hit at a dinner party!
Chicken Tortilla Soup
This recipe makes soup for 2, I usually double or triple it so there's more to go around!
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 T chili powder (can add more if like a bit spicier)
1 T tomato paste
2 skinless chicken thighs (boneless or bone-in)
salt and pepper
4 cups chicken stock
cilantro: 6 stems plus 1/4 cup roughly chopped leaves
4 corn tortillas, 6" diameter, sliced into 1/4" wide strips
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup rinsed and drained black beans
3/4 cup diced fresh tomato
Saute the onion in evoo in a dutch oven or soup pot on medium heat until soft but not browned, about 3 mins. Add the chili powder and tomato paste and stir to mix and cook briefly; take care not to let the chili powder scorch.
Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and nestle them in the chile paste, turning them once so they're entirely coated. Pour in about 1/2 cup of the broth and adjust the heat to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook the chicken, turning once, until it's extremely tender when pierced with a knife, 30 to 40 mins (add a little more broth if the pan is starting to dry out). When the chicken is done, remove it from the pan, let it cool a bit, and cut or shred it into bite-sized pieces, discarding any bones and/or bits of fat. Set aside.
If there's any visible grease in the pan, spoon it off, add the remaining broth and the cilantro stems and simmer, uncovered, until the broth has reduced by about one-third and is quite flavorful, 20-30 mins. Add in the black beans and corn (or you can add to bowls separately with the chicken and tomato).
While the broth is reducing fry the tortilla strips (see instructions below).
When ready to serve, put some shredded chicken and tomato into bowls (beans and corn too, if you didn't add directly into soup). Reheat the broth if necessary, make sure its piping hot so it can heat the chicken and tomato without becoming too cold. Pour broth over ingredients into bowls.
Garnish with any or all of the following:
tortilla strips (can use broken up tortilla chips in a pinch)
cotija or feta cheese
Line a plate with 2 layers of paper towels. In a small high-sided saucepan, heat enough oil for about 1 inch depth. Heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 375 degrees F or when a strip of tortilla sizzles immediately when dipped in the oil. Add 6-8 strips of tortilla. With tongs or a long fork, "scrunch" them for a second or two so they take on a wavy shape. Fry until the strips aren't bubbling much and have become pale brown and crispy, about 1 minute. Transfer to the paper towels. Repeat with remaining strips.
Rib-Eye beef version:
Instead of the chicken thighs, use an 8-oz ribeye or other tender cut of beef. Trim all the fat and silverskin and cut the meat into bite-size strips, slightly more than 1/4" thick. Toss the steak with a little salt. Start the recipe by heating the evoo until quite hot, add the steak, sear to brown the outside (cook a little longer for well-done meat). The meat will finish cooking in the broth. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside. Continue with the recipe above, skipping the chicken of course.