I’ve been making soup from scratch for years, so I have my old standby recipes. Chicken Tortilla Soup, or Chicken [No] Tortilla Soup as I like to call it, is one of them.
Tortilla Soup is Leftover Soup
Tortilla soup (like so many other great soups) started off as a leftover soup. Not that it is a leftover, but in that it uses leftovers to make the soup. As such, it’s never, ever the same. Depends on what you have as leftovers. In Mexico, apparently, they have leftover tortillas quite often. I suppose they go a little stale, and stop making good tacos, so you make chips or soup. I choose soup, but if you don’t eat tortillas, you can go tortilla free. Then it’s just Chicken Soup, I guess, but the way I make it, it’s more like ¡¡CALDO DE POLLO!!
I make this soup for lots of reasons, but the biggest is that the whole family likes it. I make the base, then each person doctors it up like they want. Cheese, salsa, tortillas. All optional. I don’t eat many tortillas, so usually this is tortilla soup without tortillas. My kids like tortillas, so I either fry up some strips or use some leftovers.
Once you’ve mastered this recipe, make it your own. Just swap out the vegetables, add extra veggies, different spices, and then some extras to make the soup you want. Easy.
Chicken [No] Tortilla Soup
Serves 4 to 6
- 4-5 pound chicken
- 16 cups water
- 6 bay leaves
- 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered into wedges
- 2 stalks celery, cut into bite size pieces
- 4 carrots, cut into bite size pieces
- 10 allspice berries, cracked
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp cumin, ground
- 1 tbsp coriander, ground
- 4 summer squash ir zucchini, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 tbsp paprika or mild, powdered chili
- 1 tbsp Mexican oregano (it is different, but Greek will do)
- tortilla chips or strips, baked or fried
- red or green salsa
- lime wedges
- sliced or cubed avocado
- sour cream or queso fresco
- cubed cream cheese
- shredded cheese
- shredded cabbage
- chopped green onions
- hot sauce
Rinse the chicken and place it in a large pot. Cover with the water and bring it to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer.
Add the bay leaves through the coriander. Simmer for about 45 minutes, until the chicken is falling from the bone.
Transfer the chicken from the broth to a large bowl, and allow it to cool enough to handle. Pull the meat from the bones, saving the skin and bones for a future bone, if you like. I suggest you freeze them in a zipper bag for later use.
Tear or cut the chicken meat into bite size pieces and return it to the broth. Add in the yellow summer squash and simmer for another 15-20 minutes, until the squash is just tender. Remove from heat, remove the bay leaves, and stir in the oregano and paprika.
Ladle into bowls and serve with a variety of condiments at the table. If using chips or fried tortillas, I like to put them in the bowl first, top with the soup, and let them soak and soften in the soup for a few minutes before eating.
Top with cheese or some avocado cubes, and stir in some salsa, and some of your other favorite condiments.