As some of you may remember from my gloating “I’m in paradise” post, I was in Cabo a few weeks ago. I came back on a sunshine high…completely relaxed, perfectly browned, and emitting happiness. Now, it rains every day, my skin’s dry and peely, and the stress of work and school have wiped away any residual joy. I had to get back to my happy place, and in Cabo, I ate tortilla soup just about every day, so I wiped up a pot and crossed my fingers for teleportation. Well, the soup tasted really good at least…
Tortilla soup is super healthy. It’s a brothy tomato base, flavored with garlic, onion, and peppers, cumin, oregano, cilantro, and lime. The one thing that makes it not so good, at least in Cabo, was the mountain of fried tortilla strips garnishing the soup. I wasn’t sure if it would work, but I baked my strips instead, and they were AMAZING…just as good as fried, really.
But, the real fun of tortilla soup still lies in the garnishes, so fresh avocado slices, cilantro, cojita cheese, and BAKED tortilla strips were necessary additions to this amazing soup.
Nutritional highlights: This soup has it all…chicken for protein, plenty of vegetables, healthy fats (avocado and a littttttle cheese), and a little spice to kick start your metabolism. It’s really versitile according to your preferences too. Mine had added black beans and corn, but you could leave them out for a more traditional take. It’s a meal in a bowl and it may be why people in mexico are all pretty thin. Either that or the 90 degree heat.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (I keep some seeds in because I love the heat)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
6 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 tablespoon tomato paste (I didn’t have this, so I used a few extra chopped tomatoes)
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles)
Cooked chicken, shredded (I bought a rotissere chicken to make it really simple)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of one fresh lime
Optional additions to make it a one pot meal: 1 can black beans, 1 cup frozen corn
4 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4″ strips (stale are best)
1 cup Cotija, Chihuahua, Feta, or Monterrey cheese (I used feta)
1 avocado, sliced or cut into chunks about 1″ square
For the soup: Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeño, cumin, chili powder and oregano. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft.
Add chicken stock, tomato paste, tomatoes, cilantro and lime juice. Now here you have a choice. If you want your soup to be uniform consistency, blend the ingredients so far and return to the pot. You can also leave it chunky, or blend half of it which is what I did. Add chicken, black beans, and corn. Taste your broth and try to decide if it needs a little extra flavor–season with salt, add more lime juice or cilantro, whatever your inner Cocinera tells you. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer and let cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
For the tortilla strips: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, spread tortilla strips in a single layer on sheet and spray again. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Bake 8-10 minutes until crisp and lightly browned (keep watching and shaking the pan until they’re really crisp).
Prepare your condiments plate: Grated cheese, chopped cilantro, tortilla strips, sliced avocado, and maybe some chopped red onion.
To serve, ladle soup into a bowl and add all the toppings. And enjoy a really brief trip to mexico!