I took a chance recently and ordered tortilla soup at a local Mexican food joint. I usually don’t order it out unless I have a really good recommendation from someone that I know and trust. But, here we were at the restaurant, I had a hankering for tortilla soup and this was my only choice.
To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. While it was broth based rather than thick and creamy like the soup I make at home, it wasn’t just a normal bland beige colored broth with a little chicken thrown in for good measure. No. It was a rich tomatoey red colored broth that was full of spice and flavor. It had big chunks of carrot, squash and celery. It was a huge bowl and I took about half of it home to have for lunch at work the next day.
I decided to try to replicate it at home. Overall I got pretty close. The broth wasn’t quite as rich of a color as the one at the restaurant, but it was a very good version of the soup. And the kids both loved it enough that we ended up going to the store to get some soup thermoses for the kids to take some of it to school the following day. I’d call that success. Wouldn’t you?
You could possibly add more tomato juice or even try crushed tomatoes or tomato soup for a richer color to the broth. And depending on how you like your soup, you could increase the amount of broth and tomato products appropriately. The one served in the restaurant had a high liquid to chunk ratio, but my man prefers more chunks in his soup… so I tried to land somewhere in the middle.
This makes a big pot of soup. Enough for several meals.
2-3 tablespoons oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 10 ounce can Ro*Tel diced tomatoes & green chiles
1-2 5.5 ounce can tomato juice
Several cups chicken broth or stock
3 carrots, sliced rather thick
3 celery ribs, sliced rather thick
2 yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise and sliced rather thick
2 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced rather thick
1 pound cooked chicken
Heat oil in stock pot over medium heat. Cook onion in oil until translucent and beginning to brown just a little. Add garlic, paprika, chili powder, cumin, coriander, and Mexican oregano. Cook briefly until fragrant. Add diced tomatoes, Ro*Tel, tomato juice and 2 cups of chicken broth, being sure to scrape up any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add carrots and celery and stir everything to combine well. Add more chicken broth if needed. Cover and bring to a simmer. Cook on low (simmering) for about 1 hour until carrots and celery are tender.
Add squash, zucchini and chicken. Add more broth and/or tomato juice if needed and to suit your own taste as to the ratio of liquid to vegetables. (Some like lots of liquid. My man likes the vegetables and meat to be more prominent.) Cover again and continue to simmer until the squash and zucchini are very tender (30-45 minutes).
If you need to leave at any point in the cooking like I did, you may cover the pot and place into a 325°-350°F oven.
Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, place some broken tortilla chips in the bottom of a bowl and top with grated cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese. Ladle hot soup over the cheese and chips. Top it off with some slices of avocado.