While I do tend to make my soups from scratch, I keep a few boxes of organic roasted red pepper and tomato soup (Pacific Natural Foods) in my pantry for a quick cup or bowl to accompany a grilled cheese – nice crusty bread and aged cheddar – for a quick and simple meal.
I realized that the soup could also serve as a shortcut for one of my favorite soups on a night when I might not have a lot of time to make dinner. If you take the time to stock your pantry/freezer with items that you feel good about serving your family, you won’t have to default to ordering take-out in a pinch.
You can prepare multiple steps of this recipe simultaneously in order to have dinner on the table in record time: bake the tortilla strips and chicken in the oven at the same time while sautéing your veggies on the stove top, then bring everything together into one pot and simmer away.
Easy, quick and simple!
Chicken Tortilla Soup
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Spice mixture: 2 teaspoons pimento (smoked paprika), 1
teaspoon smoked salt, 1 teaspoon granulated garlic, 1 Tablespoon ancho chile powder, 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons oregano (feel free to improvise)
1 medium onion, diced
2 bell peppers, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 (1- quart) containers of organic roasted red pepper and tomato soup (such as Pacific Natural Foods brand), or homemade tomato soup
1 quart of homemade chicken stock/broth, or 1 quart container of low-sodium broth
½ pound dried black beans, soaked and cooked until tender, or 2 (15-oz cans) black beans
6 corn tortillas
Finely diced red onion
Diced avocado (sprinkle with lime juice to keep from discoloring)
Finely minced fresh cilantro
Zest and juice from organic lime
Sour cream/crème fraiche/plain yogurt
Shredded aged cheddar or jack cheese, or crumbled cotija cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Season chicken with spice mixture on all sides and place on foil/parchment-lined baking sheet, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil.
Slice corn tortillas into thin strips lengthwise, and then cut in half crosswise - using a pizza cutter makes really quick work of this step. Arrange on a foil/parchment-lined baking sheet, drizzle with some olive oil, give a toss, then sprinkle a bit of your spice mixture over top.
Place chicken and tortilla strips into oven and set timer for 15 minutes. Flip the chicken oven and return to the oven. Give the tortilla strips a good shake to separate them and to check for over-browning – you want them golden and crispy, not burnt. If they look good at this point, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool on the pan. If they are still too pale, return them to the oven and keep an eye on them. Set the timer for another 15 minutes or so: you want the chicken cooked through and the tortilla strips crisp and golden-brown. When chicken is finished cooking, allow to sit for 2 – 3 minutes, then shred with 2 forks.
Meanwhile, heat 1 – 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in your soup pot over medium-high heat. When oil is ready, add onion and pepper, cooking for about 3 – 5 minutes. Add garlic and a bit of spice mixture and cook an additional 1 – 2 minutes. Add the shredded chicken to the vegetables in the soup pot; add beans, chicken stock and tomato soup. Mix well and allow to come to a gentle boil, then turn heat down to a simmer and let heat through at least 20 – 30 minutes, to allow flavors to come together and to get your toppings ready. Taste the soup and add in as much spice mixture as you need to please your palate.
This soup is delicious and everyone gets to garnish it the way they like. I highly recommend including the lime zest and a generous amount of the lime juice to really brighten up this soup, and to complement the creaminess of the sour cream, avocado and cheese. I also take the spiciness up quite a bit with habanero hot sauce.