Chicken Tortilla Soup

I didn’t used to be a fan of soup. I don’t know if that was one of those things that I turned my nose up at when I was a kid or if my mom just wasn’t a soup person and so she never made it. Regardless, the only soup I ate for years and years and years was Campbell’s chicken noodle or tomato. But when I started cooking for myself, I figured out two important things about soup: It’s generally healthy (even the creamier ones still have vegetables) and it’s really easy to make. Throw some stuff in a pot and you just made soup! I realize that making soup probably isn’t a big deal for some people, but for me, who only ate soup from a can for 20 plus years? Making homemade soup is something I feel proud of, the same way I feel about making homemade bread.

This winter I’ve been craving lots of soup since we finally live in a place that gets cold, so I’ve been expanding my soup repertoire. I usually make it once a week but I’ve been having trouble finding a low fat soup that I really love. Until now that is. This Chicken Tortilla Soup is hands-down my favorite soup. Possibly ever.

The original recipe I adapted had ground meat and I’m not a big fan of ground turkey or beef, so instead I used chicken and decided to shred it up like you find in other Mexican dishes. I also made several other changes like adding fresh cilantro (one of my favorite smells) and adjusting the spiciness. I can’t eat super spicy food, and I found this to be perfect: not crazy spicy, but definitely not bland. If you like things really spicy you may want to add a jalapeno or some chilies, but that’s way more than I can handle. I also added in some tumeric. Why you ask? Well, go read this post of the awesomeness that is tumeric (seriously, I’ll wait) and tell me you don’t want to add it to everything now. Actually, you should really read all the posts on that blog because it’s truly enlightening and informative if you’re trying to eat healthier.

This soup has a lot of ingredients (mostly spices), but it’s still extremely easy to make. This recipe makes a lot of soup, I’m probably being conservative with number of servings, but I love making a big batch and eating the leftovers for lunch the rest of the week.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Healthy Chicken Tortilla Soup

adapted from One Healthy Mama

Soup | Servings: 6-8
Prep time: 30 min | Cook time: 30 min | Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4-6 oz. each)
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 16 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes or 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, roughly chopped (remove ribs and seeds for less spice)
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (omit for less spice)
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 12 oz. frozen corn
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro, divided
  • 1 cup 2% milk shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Process

  1. Tip: For faster shredding, cut chicken into large chunks and transfer to the bowl your mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low until the chicken is shredded. In a large skillet or pot with a tight-fitting lid, arrange chicken in a single layer and cover with about 1 inch of water. Sprinkle in a few pinches of salt. Place on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the chicken reaches 165 degrees. Transfer chicken to a large bowl or cutting board and shred with two forks. Set aside. (This can be done the day before and stored in the fridge.)
  2. In a large stock pot or dutch oven (at least 4-5 quarts), heat oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, add tomatoes, carrots, green pepper and jalapeno to a blender or food processor and mix until blended, but still chunky. Process longer for a smoother soup or shorter for a chunkier soup.
  4. Once the onions are done, add all the spices to the pot and cook for one minute.
  5. Add the shredded chicken, tomato mixture and chicken broth, corn, beans and 1/2 cup cilantro to the pot. Add an additional cup (or more) of water if you find the soup too thick for your tastes. Decrease heat slightly and simmer, partly covered, until the corn is tender and the soup is thoroughly heated, at least 30 minutes or up to an hour. Taste and add salt if necessary.
  6. When the soup is almost ready, preheat your broiler. Place tortillas on a baking sheet (you may need to do two at a time) and put under your broiler for 1 to 2 minutes or until browned and crispy, then turn over and toast the other side. Watch closely so you don’t burn them. Cool for about 5 minutes (they get crispier as they cool) and then break into strips.
  7. Ladle soup into a bowl and top with a handful of tortillas and a couple of tablespoons of cheese. Sprinkle with the remaining cilantro. Squeeze a wedge of lime over it just before serving.