With Cinco de Mayo coming up, we’re all going to want to eat Mexican food, right? I know I will! I’ve always liked Mexican food, but since moving to South Texas 6 years ago, I have a newfound love for it. We have a lot of Mexican restaurants, and man are they good! One of my favorite places makes a really good chicken tortilla soup. I used to order it every time, but…(in case you’re starting to see a trend here) I like when I can duplicate something I loved at a restaurant! So, after much trial and error, here is my version of chicken tortilla soup. It’s so good that I don’t even order it out anymore – I mean would you look at this cheesy, flavorful goodness?? You know you want to make it!
The garnishes really make this soup stand out. Here’s a picture so you can really see everything. Don’t skimp on them, just don’t do it. TRUST ME.
A few tips to make this more weeknight friendly:
- Buy a rotisserie chicken. You’ll still get lots of flavor and will save time if you don’t have to cook the chicken.
- Skip the tortilla strips in the broth – it adds flavor but it’s still really good without. Simmer time is only about 20 minutes if you leave them out.
- No need to make your own tortilla strips. Crushed up tortilla chips will work just fine! I’m not sure why I get all fancy and make my own, but I just love them fresh out of the oven. Once I laughed when my sister said she makes her own croutons. I was all like, who has time to make their own croutons? Then I tried it and WOW. worth the extra 2 minutes it takes. So here I go, insisting you have time to make your own tortilla strips. Worth it in my books, but not necessary.
- Warning: they cook quickly so you have to check them a lot. Almost every time I make them I burn the first batch – which gives me flashbacks to the two things my mom always forgot about. Biscuits on Thanksgiving and corn on the cob during summer bbq’s. Our family came to view black bottom biscuits as the norm and corn on the cob typically became our dessert. Let’s embrace these errors and make some family traditions!
Gluten free? Enjoy as is! Check the ingredients on your corn tortillas first of course. But typically the only ingredients in them are ground corn, lime and water.
Paleo? I’m sorry…um, just kidding. I know a lot of people are loving the paleo lifestyle so here are the changes you need to be able to enjoy it while following your paleo guidelines:
- Corn tortillas – I think this will be subjective. Some die hard “primal eaters” would say this is a no go. But some might say its ok, so that’s going to be a personal decision. I say go for it, but that’s coming from a carb-loving dairy-a-holic 🙂
- Cheese – if you can find non-dairy cheese give it a shot! Or just leave it out.
- Sour cream – sorry, it’s gotta go
So that leaves you with the tomato/chicken broth (and maybe the tortilla strips) garnished with cilantro, lime juice and lots of avocado! Probablynot as tasty as the original, but I think it would still be a pretty darn good paleo approved meal.
Freezer meal? Double the recipe and freeze in a ziploc bag. This soup freezes beautifully and if you put it in a ziplog bag and lay it flat it takes up less room in the freezer. Plus when you take it out, you can simply cut the ziploc and put the whole frozen block into a pot to thaw out quickly. When it’s thawed out garnish it and voila – homemade soup in minutes.
Hate cilantro? Leave it out! I’m adding this as a special shout out for my twin brother. The first time I brought him to the Mexican restaurant where I got my taste for tortilla soup, he kept saying it tasted like soap. Then came the queso, and that tasted like soap too. My sister and I kept tasting it, over and over again – we had to for the safety of our brother (eating every last bit of that queso was all done in an effort to determine the cause of the mystery soap flavor – we sure are good sisters). We thought maybe his morning shower was the issue. But google came to the rescue – apparently to some people cilantro tastes like soap! So, if you’re one of those weirdos, I mean, awesomely rare people whose taste buds turn cilantro into soap – leave it out. I promise this soup is still tasty without it, and you can always garnish with it if someone that’s eating it is missing the taste.