Chicken Tortilla Soup

MAKES 6 SERVINGS • PREP TIME: 15 minutes • COOK TIME: 25 minutes

If I’d been cast in The Wizard of Oz, I’d have been Toto, that tiny troublemaker who can’t resist pulling back the curtain to see what’s behind it. Maybe it’s an occupational hazard of being a cook, but I can’t take any meal I eat in a restaurant at face value. I try to figure out the flavors, commit them to culinary memory, and re-create them in my kitchen. When I eat out, I often chance upon dishes that almost work but needs a little help to achieve scrumptiousness. Such is the case here. I think both taste and texture are vital for the perfect meal, and too often tortilla soups have good flavor but mushy tortillas. Since I like some crunch, that’s an instant turnoff. The solution? In this recipe, fresh, crispy strips of tortilla go on top of the soup at the last second, providing an ideal counterpoint to the soup, which is swirling with delicious, healing ingredients, including cilantro, cumin, oregano, avocado, garlic, onion, and celery.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup peeled and diced carrot
1/2 cup peeled and diced celery
2 teaspoons seeded and diced jalapeno
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
6 cups, chicken stock
1 cup thinly sliced cooked chicken
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
6 corn tortillas
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 medium avocado for garnish, diced

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350°F. In a 6-quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion with a ¼ teaspoon of salt, carrot, celery, and jalapeno. Saute the vegetables until they begin to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in garlic cumin and oregano. Add the tomatoes with their juice and cook 1 minute. Add chicken stock. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat to low. Cover the pot and allow the soup to simmer for 15 minutes. Place the tortillas in a stack and cut into 1/4” to 1/2” strips. Spread out the strips on a sheet pan and bake 7 to 8 minutes…just until crisp. Transfer from oven and set aside. Add the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons lime juice and chicken to the simmering soup. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. For the final touch add the remaining ½ teaspoon of fresh lime juice. Taste the soup you may want another squeeze of lime juice or a pinch of salt. To serve, ladle soup into individual soup bowls, top with crumbled tortilla strips, cilantro, and avocado.

Photo Credit: Leo Gong

Reprinted with permission from The Longevity Kitchen: Satisfying Big-Flavor Recipes Featuring the Top 16 Age-Busting Power Foods Copyright © 2013 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.