Comfort Food of Mexico – Tortilla Soup

Tortilla soup is the chicken soup south of the border. The name implies an Aztec origin, but it owes much more to the Tarascan people from the Michoacán area of Mexico.

I enjoy eating it in all its variations whatever its origin. It’s also easy to serve vegetarian style, or with shredded chicken thighs. Breast meat I have found is a bit too bland.

Mexico is known for its soups especially when chili peppers are used like in the case of Tortilla soup which are called chipotle chilies when roasted and Jalapeño when fresh. All Mexican chili peppers have such distinct names – one for fresh; another for dry. I believe the reason for these two names is because the flavor of each type— dried and fresh — is significantly unique. Each type has a flavor of its own.

For example, another favorite Mexican soup of mine is Pasilla soup I discovered through Jacque Pepin who writes about enjoying Pasilla and Garlic soup in a Mexican restaurant called Playa del Carmen. Pasilla soup is also delicious when made with Ancho or Guajillo chili peppers. Pasilla is called a Chilaca chili pepper when fresh. Another very popular chili is poblano which is also called Ancho or Mulato when dry.

The flavors between these different types of chilis can be subtle or dramatic. The more you try them, the more delicious they become and the more discerning is your taste of one or another. In fact the heat scale of chili peppers often become far less important to the discriminating eater.

Tortilla Soup
Serves 4-6
one medium onion and 2 large cloves of garlic, both diced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large garlic cloves, smashed with the back of a knife
1 chipotle in adobo sauce
1 tbsp chili powder
8 cups chicken broth, low-sodium
1 can Marzano tomatoes chopped with juice, unless sweet tomatoes are available
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 cup deboned chicken thighs ( 2 thighs), shredded , sautéed
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
Juice of 2 limes, freshly squeezed
8 corn tortillas, cut into 1/2 inch strips, toasted in the oven at 375 F until crispy or about 5 minutes.

1- Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, chipotle, chili powder, and cook five minutes.
2- Add the chicken broth and the corn, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly, and simmer for 20 minutes.
3- Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the tomato, chicken, cilantro, and lime juice. You may wish to puree your soup or not.
4- Ladle the soup into bowls, add a small handfull of crumbled tortillas on top, and serve with one squeeze of lime.
5- You may also enjoy making a spoonful of creme fraiche or sour cream and a diced avocado available to your diners. Enjoy.


Send questions or your favorite recipes directly to: I look forward to hearing from you. Chef Alan