By Riki Shore
Here in LA, we started the week with temps in the 80s, then last night we endured hours and hours of wind gusts up to 60 mph with the temperature bottoming out in the high 40s. One thing is for sure: this week calls for comfort food.
I had some homemade chicken stock on hand that needed to be used. I don’t prefer thick or creamy soups, but I wanted something that could be a meal in a bowl.
After scouring numerous cookbooks, I decided on tortilla soup. The broth is fortified with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, rendering a warm and tingly soup. Shredded chicken provides necessary protein, while creamy chunks of avocado, crispy fresh tortilla strips, and a generous dousing of fresh lime juice top off the bowl. There are countless other toppings you can add, including pickled red onions, slivered radish, or crumbled queso fresco.
6 cups chicken broth, or
4 cups chicken broth plus 2 cups water
1/2 bone-in chicken breast
1/2 cup olive oil
4 fresh corn tortillas
1 Anaheim pepper
1/2 red onion
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
15 ounce can whole tomatoes
1 teaspoon chipotle in adobo
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup jicama
1. Bring the chicken broth to a simmer, then add the chicken breast. Cover partially, keeping the stock at a simmer, until the chicken is cooked through, about 25 – 30 minutes.
2. Remove the chicken to a plate. When it’s cool enough to handle, remove the skin and shred the meat into bite-size pieces using your fingers or two forks. Set the shredded chicken aside.
3. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Cut the tortillas into 1/2-inch strips. When a drop of water sizzles in the oil, add the tortilla strips and fry them until golden on both sides. Remove the strips to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt. Cook the remaining strips in batches, being careful not to stack the strips on top of one another in the pan. Set the fried tortillas aside.
4. In the same skillet, pour out all but 2 tablespoons of oil. Chop the pepper, onion and garlic into thin strips. Heat the oil over medium heat and cook the veggies with the salt until they are soft, about 5 – 6 minutes.
5. Pour the veggies into the warm broth. If a lot of the broth evaporated while cooking the chicken, add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of water at this point. Roughly chop the whole tomatoes and add them to the broth. Add the chipotle in adobo and a pinch more salt (to taste).
6. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, partially covered.
7. While the soup is simmering, prepare the toppings. Finely chop the cilantro; peel the jicama and grate or cut it in thin matchsticks; cut the avocado into small chunks.
8. Add the shredded chicken to the soup and heat through. Ladle the soup into bowls and place the toppings on the table, including the reserved tortilla strips. Let everyone prepare their bowl as they like, and dig in.