Homemade Tortilla Soup

I love simple foods – meals made with a few quality ingredients while they’re in season that taste wonderful together. Nothing fancy, just good simple food. This recipe starts with a rotisserie chicken from your deli. It’s easy, it can be ready in an hour, and you’ll find yourself wanting it again and again. It’s good for whatever ails you. Don’t let the length of the recipe put you off. It’s broken it into steps so it’s easier to follow.

Homemade Tortilla Soup - It's a Good Thing

First, start the soup base in a stock pot:
One rotisserie chicken, small (plain, not flavored)
Two 32-ounce cartons of chicken broth
1 tablespoon of powdered chicken bullion
1 large clove of garlic, peeled but left whole
Salt and black pepper to taste (added at the end)

Put the first 4 ingredients into your pot; cover and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Remove the garlic clove and toss it. Remove the chicken and allow it to cool for 10 minutes, then pull the meat off, removing the skin and bones. Chop into bite-size pieces and return it to the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Start a pan of steamed rice:
1 cup white rice, uncooked (I love Texmati basmati rice)
2 teaspoons of canola oil
1 3/4 cups of water
1 teaspoon of salt

Heat the canola oil in a medium pan. When the oil is hot, add the rice and toast it, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes. Add the water and salt, stir to combine, then cover tightly with a piece of aluminum foil, put a lid on and make sure it’s snug, then turn the heat down to medium low. Cook for 25 minutes, and don’t peek. I mean it. Let your rice cook in peace.

While that’s warming up, toss together a bowl of pico de gallo:
One large ripe tomato, chopped
One small yellow onion, minced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
One teaspoon of garlic salt
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Juice squeezed from one fresh lime

Toss all of this into a bowl, mixing well. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Once that’s done, make your tortilla strips:
10-12 yellow corn tortillas, cut into narrow strips about 1″ long
Pam or other cooking spray
1/2 teaspoon of salt

On a cookie sheet, spread your tortilla strips out into a single layer so they will toast evenly; spray lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes, tossing them half-way through, until they are lightly browned and crispy. Could you cheat and use tortilla chips from a bag? Sure, but it won’t taste good, and they’ll turn to mush almost instantly. I don’t recommend it.

Prep your final toppings:
One avocado, peeled and chopped into chunks
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated
Fresh cilantro, chopped
One lime, cut into quarters

Okay, so now for the good part. To serve, get a large soup bowl for each person and layer the ingredients in the following order:
1/2 cup of steamed rice
1 1/2 – 2 cups of chicken soup base with chopped chicken
tortilla strips (as many as you like)
grated Monterey jack cheese (don’t be stingy)
pico de gallo (at least a couple of spoons full)
avocado chunks and cilantro, to your taste
finish with a squeeze of lime juice over the top

Dig in immediately! Tortilla soup waits for no one. Eat it right away while the broth is still steaming hot and the tortilla strips are still crunchy. If you have leftovers, you can combine the rice and soup stock in one container. Store the pico de gallo, grated cheese and other fresh ingredients in their own separate containers. Most importantly, sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. As they say, “soup is good food.”


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