A Squared: In My Lunchbox: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Monday, February 3, 2014

In My Lunchbox: Chicken Tortilla Soup

I have been having a real soup moment lately.

It could certainly be the weather-- I don't think we have seen a day in the past month where we haven't seen snowfall or negative windchill. A bowl of soup is the perfect meal for that kind of day. Or that kind of month, in our case. I also really love that soups can be a filling and flavorful meal, but can still be relatively healthy. I haven't thought about making tortilla soup in forever, but I was reading Posh Meets Pavement a few weeks ago and saw that Sierra was making a batch of it and I was inspired. She used The Pioneer Woman's recipe and raved about it, so I looked it up and used it as a base for my own version of the soup-- and it turned out great!

The tomato-based broth has a wonderful flavor and Ree Drummond's little trick of adding a bit of cornmeal to the soup to thicken it up works perfectly. It's a great combination of tender chicken breast, a variety of peppers, onions, corn, and tortilla strips which become kind of noodle-like in this soup. The recipe as great Mexican flavor with a hint of heat, but if you like a little more (like my husband) you could add an additional serrano pepper to the pot or season with a little cayenne too.

Garnish however you like. I like a little shredded cheddar and diced avocado. Alex added shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream to his bowl.

This soup also freezes and reheats really well, so I made a big batch for us for dinner and then portioned out a few smaller ones to pack for lunch too.

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tbs. cumin
  • 1 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded, ribs removed, diced
  • 2 serrano peppers, seeded, ribs removed, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 32 oz. fat free low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 3 Tbs. cornmeal 
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 5 corn tortillas, cut into 2-3-inch strips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cumin, chili pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Drizzle 1 Tbs. olive oil on chicken breasts, then sprinkle half of the spice mixture on both sides of the chicken. Set aside the rest of the spice mixture for later.

Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear. Shred the chicken and set aside.

Heat remaining olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onions, red pepper, poblano, serrano, and minced garlic to the pot. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, and then add the rest of the spice mixture. Add shredded chicken and stir.

Pour in diced tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, and hot water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally to make sure ingredients do not stick to the bottom of the pot.

In a small bowl, combine cornmeal and 3 Tbs. water. Stir into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes.

Stir in corn and tortilla strips and cook for another 5 minutes.

Serve warm in soup bowls and garnish with the toppings of your choice.

Derived from original recipe by The Pioneer Woman.

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