I was feeling under the weather when I got home today so I needed something warm and comforting to lift my spirits. I first had chicken tortilla soup at my aunt’s house. My aunt Liz is an amazing cook. Before I thought I ever wanted or even had the capacity to cook, I was influenced by my family members. They all seemed to be good at cooking one thing or another. All of them but Liz. Liz was pretty much good at cooking anything. So anytime Liz gets behind the stove I get excited- I know something good is coming soon.
This soup is no different. I’ve had a few different chicken tortilla soups but none of them compare to this one. It’s perfect- spicy, comforting, cheesy, crunchy- and even when over or under cooked it just becomes a different variety of itself. Its a really simple recipe, and takes about an hour to get from the stove to the plate. Here’s the recipe:
Chicken Tortilla Soup – 6-8 servings
2 (thin/medium) chicken breasts
8-9 cups water
2 tbsp sofrito (optional)
4 tbsp olive oil
1 can tomato sauce
1 tspn tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes w/ chiles
1 cup rice
1 small can black beans
3/4 cup of frozen corn
1/4 cup of shredded cheese (I love this with cheddar, jack, and pepper jack cheese)
Tortilla chips – your favorite kind
1. Start boiling the water in a large pot.
2. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, black beans, corn, olive oil and sofrito to the pot.I also add some salt and pepper to the pot around this time.
3. Once the water starts boiling, add the chicken breasts. From this point on, the soup should boil for about 30 minutes. Stir every 5-10 minutes.
4. The type of rice you use will dictate the time it will be added to the soup. If you are using instant or 10 minute rice, add the rice to the soup 20 minutes after you add the chicken. If you are using regular rice, add it to the soup when you add the chicken.Lower the heat slightly, to around medium. Keep stirring every 5-10 minutes.
5. 10 minutes before the soup is done, remove the chicken from the soup and shred using 2 forks to pull it apart. (If you’re using instant rice this is a good time to add the rice.) Once the chicken is all shredded add it back to the pot.
6. Around the 30 minute mark, the soup should start look thicker and the rice should be plump. Once the rice is cooked, shut the soup off and let stand for 5 minutes.
7. Serve the soup in bowls, and top the soup with tortilla chips and the shredded cheese.
That’s it! It’s really simple and really flavorful with very minimum amounts of work. This recipe is my go-to when I need something quick, yummy, and also when I haven’t taken any meat down from the freezer. I take down 2 chicken breasts when I get home from work, start the water and add the ingredients, and add the semi-frozen breasts to the pot. The chicken is always ready to be shredded after 20 minutes of boiling in the pot.
You can often find sofrito in the Goya section of the freezer isle. If you have the urge to make your own sofrito, I’ll be happy to share my grandmother’s recipe here. You don’t need to use the sofrito in this recipe, I just think it adds something special to the soup.
When I first started making this soup, I diced the chicken and added to the pot when the water started to boil. That’s another option if you don’t like shredding chicken, but I think the texture of the shredded chicken makes the soup a lot more comforting and full bodied. To mix it up, I sometimes like add cubes of ripe avocado or a dollop of sour cream in the middle. I’ve also made my own tortilla chips for the dish and used the store bought kind. It’s a really versatile soup that never gets old.
I recently made it for a very old friend of mine and she liked it so much that she asked for the recipe and made it for her family. That made me feel really great. I love cooking for myself, but it’s always a pleasure to cook for others and get positive feedback. I guess I know now how Liz must feel every time she cooks any of her dishes for us.