It’s raining in LA. TIME TO THROW A PARTY!
A soup party, that is.
I love tortilla soup. I am embarrassed to admit that my intro to tortilla soup wasn’t the most authentic experience. It was quite the opposite. It was when I worked at Alexander’s/Houstons and would steal little bowls of it and eat it in the back while I sat on boxes of napkins. I wasn’t the best employee, if I’m being totally honest, but I was about to graduate high school and felt like my whole world was going to change so I had a super “whatever” attitude.
When I went to make this, I wasn’t going after a super traditional version, though I did want to know the history. I found this article in the LA Times that speaks a bit about the history of tortilla soup. It’s super interesting a worth a read.
To paraphrase, the exact origin couldn’t be traced per se. They think it started in Mexico City but maybe it didn’t. It made its way to California in the mid 20th century and landed. The versions are definitely different. Mint was added, tortillas were ground up in the base of the soup (which honestly sounds delicious).
I think food history is super fascinating and love the stories of trying to trace them back to their original place.
This version you see here is quite modern. It is classic tortilla soup. I made it in my Instant Pot, but I have also included directions on how to make it with just a regular pot, too.
I know we’re about to be deep into holiday recipes but I can’t eat cake for breakfast every night. This soup was a nice healthy-ish respite from all the sugar. It was very welcomed.
If you know more info on tortilla soup, leave it below!
- 5 to 6 corn tortillas, cut into thin or thick strips
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or neutral oil
- 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- 1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 chipotle in adobo
- 1 (15-ounce) can of diced tomatoes
- 5 cups of chicken broth or water, divided
- 1/2 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 small chicken breasts)
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1/4 cup sour cream, whisked with a squeeze of lime juice and a pinch of salt
- Lime wedges
- 1/2 jalapeño, sliced
- Cilantro leaves
- Place a bed of paper towels or a clean kitchen towel on a baking sheet or cutting board. We're going to use this to drain the tortillas after they leave the oil.
- Slice up the corn tortillas into whatever size you prefer. I usually go for thin but this is about freedom so do as you please. Pour the oil in a pan set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the tortilla strips, in batches, frying them up until crispy, about 1 minute. Transfer them to the towel and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Repeat with frying the tortilla strips, adding more oil as necessary. Set them aside.
- To the Instant Pot, turn it to the sauté function, and add a tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil sheens, it’s hot, add the onion and garlic cloves. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, until the onion becomes translucent. Add the spices and salt and mix until the spices are fragrant. Turn the Instant Pot off and scoop the onions and garlic and transfer them to a blender.
- To the blender, add the chipotle in adobo, can of diced tomatoes and a splash of broth. Pulse until very smooth, about 1 minutes. Pour it back into the Instant Pot, along with the remaining chicken broth or water. Give it a taste and adjust the salt according to taste. I added a pinch or two.
- Place the chicken breasts in the soup mixture. Top the Instant Pot with its lid, turn the seal to “seal," and set it to "manual" for 15 minutes.
- When the Instant Pot is done, release the quick release and top the steam with a clean kitchen towel. Remove the lid and remove the chicken. Using two forks, shred the chicken and return it to the pot.
- To the medium pot, set over medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic cloves. Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes, until the onion becomes translucent. Add the spices and salt and mix until the spices are fragrant. Turn off the flame and scoop the onions and garlic, and transfer them to a blender.
- To the blender, add the chipotle in adobo, can of diced tomatoes and a splash of broth. Pulse until very smooth, about 1 minutes. Pour it back into the pot, along with the remaining chicken broth or water. Give it a taste and adjust the salt according to taste. I added a pinch or two of salt.
- Place the chicken breasts in the soup mixture and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to medium-low and cover the pot with the lid. Cook for about 30 to 35 minutes, until the chicken is cooked. Remove the lid and remove the chicken. Using two forks, shred the chicken and return it to the pot.
- Divide the soup amongst bowls. Top it with a small handful of tortilla strips, a dollop of sour cream, a few slices of jalapeño, a squeeze of lime and a few leaves of cilantro.