I was sick with a head cold all last week (thankfully I had several posts already written & ready to go) and didn’t feel up to cooking until Friday. By then I was ready for a big, piping hot bowl of sinus-clearing soup. Even better, this Mexican Chicken soup is still delicious when you aren’t sick.
This recipe is not a tomato- and/or chile-based tortilla soup; it is a clear golden broth with chicken, seasoned with Mexican flavorings and then served with a plethora of different mix-ins for each diner to personalize their bowl with (all the better when you have picky eaters in your family).
Frequently I have homemade chicken broth in my freezer that I will use (whenever I buy a rotisserie chicken I either make chicken broth immediately or freeze the carcass to make broth with later) but, if you don’t, just use a boxed low-sodium chicken broth. I went spelunking in my freezer and found a container of turkey broth from Thanksgiving!
Broth & Chicken
Serves 6 generously as a main course
- 4 chicken breasts (use bone-in skin-on if you are using a purchased broth)
- 2½ quarts chicken broth
- 4 garlic cloves – unpeeled & smashed with the side of a knife
- ½ large yellow or white onion, cut into large chunks
- 6 sprigs cilantro
- ½ tsp cumin
Add all ingredients to a large pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, covered, skimming off the foam as needed. Remove chicken and set aside to cool. Simmer broth & vegetables for an additional 30 minutes. Remove vegetables. (Optional – strain soup through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a clean pot). When cool enough to handle, pull chicken pieces off the bones, shred with your fingers and return to the soup pot. Discard chicken bones and skin, garlic, onion & cilantro. Bring soup back to a boil and taste; add salt if needed. Serve soup piping hot with tortilla strips and mix-ins. If you are serving more people add a salad or make a platter of quesadillas to go alongside.
Baked Tortilla Strips for Garnishing Soup
- Flour tortillas
- Spray oil
- Coarse Kosher or sea salt
I used 5-6 of the smallest flour tortillas (“fajita” size) I can find at my local grocery. Basically I lay them put whole on my baking sheet to see approximately how many I can fit & that’s what I use.
Place one tortilla on a cutting board & lightly spritz with spray oil. Flip over & spritz the other side. Season with salt. Place second tortilla on top, spritz with spray oil & season with salt. Continue adding tortillas in this manner.
Cut the stack of tortillas crosswise in half and then lengthwise into strips. Scatter evenly across your baking sheet. Bake at 350º for 10-15 minutes. Watch closely, they go from under-cooked to perfect to burnt quickly.
Mix-Ins (use amounts according to the taste preferences of your dinner guests)
- Diced tomatoes (in the winter I like to use the ones labeled “ugly ripe” that I can find at my local Publix)
- Yellow or white onion, diced
- Coarsely chopped cilantro
- Assorted hot sauces – we use the green Jalapeño Tabasco and the Chipotle Tabasco
- Avocado, cubed
- Cheese – Mexican melting or crumbling cheese (link) or Monterey Jack or Cheddar
- Lime, cut into wedges
- 3 cups cooked long grain rice (1 1/2 cups before cooking)
- Crumbled dried ancho chile peppers
Pictures of a few specialty ingredients:
Ancho Chili Peppers
Mexican Specialty Cheeses
How I assemble my personal soup bowl:
My Bowl of Mexican Chicken Soup
Start with large spoonful of rice then ladle in broth & chicken. Squeeze a lime wedge over your bowl and then drop said lime wedge into your soup. Add tomatoes, onions, cilantro, cumbled ancho peppers, avocado & tortilla strips. If you are sick, have with a large glass of orange juice, otherwise a Mexican beer would be perfect. Cheers!!