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Mexican Tortilla Soup Recipe

Updated on July 31, 2010

This isn’t exactly quick and easy cooking – well, actually, it is pretty easy, but it is best made over a couple of days so it falls within the domain of slow food, I guess.

Anyway, here is my version of Mexico’s iconic soup. Like any dish of this stature there exists a million and one variations, but the recipe as follows will create an excellent version with a rich chickeny broth and lots of shredded chicken, a glowing heat and lots of textures and tastes from the garnishes and add-ons that top it and that make it so visually striking to serve.

Mexican Tortilla Soup (Serves about 8)

  • 1 medium sized chicken, 4 pounds or so will do nicely, but any size will work just fine – the larger the bird the more broth you’ll get is all.
  • 2 medium white cooking onions
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • ½ tsp of whole black peppercorns
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 10 plum tomatoes
  • 1-3 tsps of dried chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Garnishes – freshly squeezed lime juice, avocado chunks, fried tortilla strips, fresh cilantro, finely minced white onion
  1. Start off the day before you plan to serve this soup by making the broth. Take your chicken and rinse it off well, inside and outside the cavity and then put in a stock pot. Ideally, you want a stock pot that is not too much wider than the chicken.
  2. Add enough water to the pot to just barely cover the chicken, and then add in one carrot, cut into rough chunks and one onion, also cut into rough chunks
  3. Bring this to a gentle simmer over medium low (Although you may tempted to crank the heat in the beginning to get things started, a longer heating-up period will draw more flavor from the bones). When it begins to simmer, take a few moments and skim and discard the foam that comes to the surface.
  4. When the stock stops foaming, add the thyme and the peppercorns and then let the stock simmer gently for 2 hours, pretty much undisturbed. (make sure it doesn’t boil, only simmers – boiling is the enemy of great stock)
  5. After 2 hours, let the soup cool a bit and then cover and transfer the whole lot (Don’t strain it yet) to the fridge.
  6. The next day, take the soup out of the fridge and use a spoon to remove all the solidified fat that has hardened on the surface. Put the stock on the heat again briefly, just to get it liquefied a bit and once everything is liquid, take the chicken out of the stock and transfer it to a plate to pick the meat off. Strain the remaining vegetables out of the soup and discard the veggies, reserving the finished broth in a soup pot.
  7. Pick the meat from the chicken and shred it into strips. Discard all bone, skin and gristle. Add this shredded chicken meat to the soup pot with the broth.
  8. Heat the broiler to high and place your tomatoes on a baking sheet. Broil these tomatoes, turning once or twice, until the skin has blackened slightly on all sides. Remove the tomatoes from the broiler, let them cool a bit and then peel the skins off the tomatoes. Cut the now skinless tomatoes into bite sized chunks and add these to the soup pot.
  9. Chop up the remaining onion. Heat a medium sized frying pan over medium and then add a Tbls or so of vegetable oil. When hot, toss in the chopped onion and sauté, stirring frequently until it is softened and starting to brown, about 7 or 8 minutes. Add in the garlic at this point and continue to cook, stirring frequently for another minute or so.
  10. Transfer the contents of the frying pan to the soup pot.
  11. Add 1/2 tsp of dried chili and then season the soup with salt to taste. Add more chili if desired. You do not want this soup to be terribly spicy, but rather to have a background ‘glow’ of chili heat.
  12. To serve this soup, you first need to make some tortilla strips. These are made simply by cutting up some corn tortillas into strips, heat in a couple of Tbls of oil in a frying pan over medium and then sautéing the strips in the oil until they are crisped.
  13. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and then top with some chili strips, some cut avocado, some minced onion, a good squeeze of lime juice and a little fresh cilantro.



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