One of my favorite things to order at Mexican or Southwestern restaurants is chicken tortilla soup – I love the combination of savory, rich flavors paired with wonderfully fresh ingredients. However, until recently, I had never made it at home. I had a major hankering for it the other day, but wasn’t in the mood to go out to a restaurant, so it was time to give a homemade version a try. Conveniently, a local restaurant, Mas Tacos Por Favor, was recently written up in Bon Appetit, + had provided the recipe for their super-popular chicken tortilla soup, so I gathered up all the ingredients, + set about making it.
This soup turned out absolutely AMAZING – it truly is the tastiest chicken tortilla soup I’ve ever had. It does take a couple hours’-worth of cooking, but it’s completely worth the time. The scratch-made broth is the star of the dish – amazingly savory + full of flavor, with a wonderful spicy bite from the dried chiles. The tender shredded chicken, the sweet charred corn + the tangy queso fresco work beautifully against the rich avocado, the bite of the tomatoes, + the crunch of tortilla strips. Plus, this recipe makes quite a bit of soup, + like most soups/stews, the leftovers get even tastier after a day in the fridge. I will absolutely be making this amazing soup again soon!
Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 4-pound chicken, rinsed
1 onion, quartered
1 carrot, peeled, chopped
5 garlic cloves, smashed
2 dried chipotle chiles
1 jalapeño (with seeds), halved lengthwise
7 cilantro sprigs
3 tablespoons (or more, to taste) fresh lime juice
kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
vegetable oil (for frying)
5 corn tortillas, cut in 1/2′-thick strips
2 ears of husked corn, or 2 cups frozen, thawed corn kernels
For serving: chopped fresh cilantro, halved cherry tomatoes, avocado wedges, queso fresco or mild feta
special equipment: a deep-fry thermometer (for frying the tortilla strips)
Bring chicken, onion, carrot, garlic, chipotles, jalapeño, and 16 cups water to a boil in a large pot; skim foam from surface. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, skimming the surface frequently, until chicken is cooked through, about 1 hour.
Transfer chicken to a plate. Strain broth into another large pot. Return chiles to broth, if a spicier broth is desired; discard remaining solids. Shred chicken meat; discard skin and bones. Transfer chicken meat to a medium bowl and set aside.
Meanwhile, set pot with strained broth over medium heat and add cilantro sprigs. Bring broth to a simmer; cook until reduced to 8 cups, about 1 hour. Discard sprigs and chiles, if using. Stir in 3 Tbsp. lime juice. Season with salt, pepper, and more lime juice, if desired. Add chicken to broth. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled.
Attach deep-fry thermometer to the side of a large cast-iron skillet or other heavy skillet. Pour oil into skillet to a depth of 1″. Heat over medium heat until thermometer registers 350°–360°. Working in batches, fry tortilla strips, turning occasionally, until crisp and golden brown, 2–3 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Season with salt.
Cook corn over a gas flame or under a broiler, turning occasionally, until charred in spots. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Cut kernels from cobs in strips. Discard cobs. (Alternatively, cook kernels in a large skillet over high heat until charred in spots.)
Rewarm broth with chicken. Divide soup among bowls. Top generously with corn, tortilla strips, cilantro, tomatoes, avocado, and crumbled queso fresco.