Chicken Tortilla Soup | The Ultimate Comfort Food
Chicken Tortilla Soup! I call it the ultimate comfort food because the warm roasted peppers, charred onions, tomatoes, and garlic start this dish off packed with flavor! Perfectly seasoned chicken, cheese, sour cream, and tortilla strips come together for a feel-good in your soul soup that is absolutely delicious.
Chicken tortilla soup – one of those dishes, that if you really think about it doesn’t make sense. Just me? lol. There is chicken and there is tortilla but I’ve never actually seen a chicken tortilla. Okay, just a little overthinking before we get into this ultimate comfort food of a recipe.
First things first – there are a lot of different ways to prepare chicken tortilla soup and it really comes down to time, depth of flavor profile, and honestly, as with any time we spend in the kitchen, the amount of energy you are wanting to put forth for that day. Let’s be real, sometimes you just don’t have it in you lol at least I don’t. However, I am a sucker for depth of flavor. For me, when you have a deep base in a soup it is more satisfying, filling and will definitely make you go back for more. It’s just the way we humans work.
Dry roasting, oven roasting, or no roast slow-cooker?
Personally, I like roasting the vegetables before I pulverize them. I’ve seen a lot of other recipes where you prepare this soup in the crockpot or roast them in the oven and both methods will result in a very flavorful dish however, let me explain why I like doing this dry pan roast method. For me, it’s all about control. It is far easier to control the amount of char on the vegetables when you are standing over them and babysitting the roast.
If I put a tray of veggies in the oven, I will tend to get busy doing other things and forget about turning them. What I end up with is overly charred on one side and mush on the top. So, If I actively roast my veggies I am more likely to achieve the char that I am looking for. Even and just enough.
A dry pan also allows ambient air to circulate and helps keep the moisture at bay. If I have them roasting in an oven, the closed hot box will hold in the moisture and that’s when I have soggy tops. Definitely okay for some things but certain dishes work better, for me, dry pan roasting.
Do I need oil to dry roast my vegetables for Chicken Tortilla Soup?
The simple answer is no. You do not need to add oil to roast vegetables hence the word “dry”. Can you add oil to roasted vegetables? Absolutely! I do this all the time depending on the recipe I am using them in, how they will be used, etc. There are many reasons why I do what I do and I try to let you guys know why when I do them. For this soup, no oil needed. A heavy-bottomed or cast iron pan works the best to dry roast, for me.
Also, by dry roasting, the cells in the vegetables expand. So, when you add oil to them or any other fat, the cells drink all of that good flavor in, and there you have another layer of flavor. I’m a firm believer in seasoning as you go and developing loads of different flavors. It’s the depth for me.
Okay, Let’s make Chicken Tortilla Soup!
Surprise! Start with roasting your veggies. I prefer using a cast iron pan however you can use a heavy bottom skillet, dutch oven, or even a nonstick pan. Make sure to warn the pan before placing in your vegetables.
You’ll want to char them evenly on all sides. Just keep an eye on them and turn when you start to see the char happen. You may need to remove some vegetables before the rest are done. For example, the onion and garlic will be done before your pepper and tomatoes.
In the meantime, while you are tending to your vegetables, add your chicken to a pan of water or chicken broth and simmer until the internal temperature reaches 165°. Remove chicken from pan and shred. Once shredded add seasonings and set aside. See additional notes below for shortcut tips.
Once everything is roasted to your liking remove the vegetables and place them aside. For the peppers, place them in a bowl immediately and cover with plastic wrap. We want them to steam for about 10 to 15 minutes. This will make removing the skin much easier before placing them in your blender.
While your cast iron pan is still hot, add in your frozen corn and toast until you have a blistered char effect. Approximately 6-7 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
Once you have removed the skin from your peppers, place all of the vegetables in your blender. I am using my Ninja blender which has tiered blades – so, I throw everything in there whole. If you are using a traditional blender you may want to roughly chop your vegetables prior to placing them in the blender. Just make sure you get all of the juice into the blender that releases when you chop.
Add in one corn tortilla torn into pieces to your blending mixture. This will help thicken the soup slightly and add another layer of flavor with an extra corn taste. Trust me on this. One of my best friend’s grandmothers taught me this trick and I use it in any Mexican-inspired soup that I make. I’m kind of addicted to it lol
Blend all of your chicken tortilla soup vegetables until there are no large chunks left.
Once everything is blended and there are no chunks left, add this mixture to your dutch oven or soup pot. To this add your chicken stock, tomato paste, corn, and additional seasoning to taste.
While your soup is warming and all the flavors are having a melding party – heat a heavy bottom pan with 1/2 cup of canola oil. Cut corn tortillas in half and then into strips. Fry in small batches and let drain on a paper towel or mesh rack. Season each batch immediately with kosher salt. See additional notes for shortcuts.
I highly suggest making more tortilla strips than you think you will need for the night’s meal. Reson being these things are tasty and the “pick as you walk through the kitchen” force is strong with these. I usually have to put them on lockdown before it’s time to eat so the household doesn’t deplete them and there isn’t any left for the soup!
There you have it, you guys! Chicken Tortilla Soup! Packed with deep layers of flavor, nutrition, and soul-warming love. What are you waiting for? Go make some. Now!
- You can use a precooked rotisserie-style chicken for this recipe. Just remove all of the skin, bones, and shred. Use the spice mixture to season the chicken.
- You can use pre-packaged tortilla strips. They are usually found in the produce section of most major grocery stores with salad toppings and croutons.
- Top each bowl with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla strips, and cilantro. Don’t let anyone skip out on these. They are a flavor profile in amongst themselves. I mean, unless there is an allergy or something then you can skip or substitute to suit your family and guests.
Live, Love, Eat!
Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Cast Iron or heavy bottom pan
- Soup Pot or Dutch oven
- 4 each Roma Tomatoes
- 3 each Anaheim Peppers poblano or jalepeno will work too
- 4 cloves Garlic
- 8 ounces Tomato Paste
- 2 cups Corn frozen or fresh kernels
- 3 pieces Chicken Breast
- 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
- 1 teaspoons Black Pepper
- 2 teaspoons Cumin
- 2 teaspoons Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- 8 ounces Cheddar Cheese Shredded
- 1 bunch Cilantro
- 8 ounces Sour Cream
- 1 package Corn Tortillas
- 1/2 cup Canola Oil
Dry Roasted Vegetables
- Using a heated cast iron or heavy bottom pan, add in the tomatoes, peppers, onion, and garlic. Allow the vegetables to roast; turning on all sides until you achieve the char to your desired depth. Remove vegetables as they are done and set aside.
- Immediately upon removing the peppers, place them in a dish and cover them with plastic wrap. Let rest 10 - 15 minutes or until the skin peels easily from the pepper. Remove skin and stems. You can leave the seeds for an added spicy kick or remove them as well as the membrane. I leave them in.
- Add frozen corn kernels to the already heated skillet and blister separately. Approximately 6-7 minutes.
- Place chicken breast in enough water or chicken stock to cover. Cover with lid and boil until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 °. Once cooked, remove from pan and shred. Season with kosher salt, black pepper, cumin, and paprika. Set aside.
Construct Soup and let simmer
- Once you have removed the skin and stems from the peppers, place the peppers, onions, garlic, and tomatoes into a blender. Tear one corn tortilla into pieces and add to the blender. Blend until smooth. Add to the soup pot.
- Add in your chicken stock and stir to combine. Let the blended vegetables and stock come to a simmer. As the soup heats, the blended vegetables will break down and become smooth. Once the soup comes to a simmer, add tomato paste, shredded chicken, and corn. Let the soup simmer for another 10 - 20 minutes. If you need to hold, place on the warming function of your oven or on very low heat.
- If making your own tortilla strips, heat a heavy bottom pan with 1/2 cup canola oil over low heat. Cut corn tortillas in half and then into small strips. Pan fry in batches. Remove and let drain on paper towels or mesh rack and salt each batch immediately.
Serve it up!
- Ladle the desired amount of Chicken Tortilla Soup into your bowl. Top with cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, tortilla strips, and cilantro. Watch the smiles on everyone's face as they come back for seconds! Enjoy!
- **Please note: Nutrition information is for informational purposes only. Nutrition is calculated on the ingredients I use and may not be the same as in your kitchen. Please use it as a loose guide only.