Monday, January 14, 2013

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Have you ever eaten something at a restaurant that was so delicious and satisfying that you wished you could have the recipe so you could make it at home?  This has happened to Paul and I several times.  From a coconut layer cake at a simple family-owned restaurant in Indiana to a jasmine tea-wrapped pork tenderloin from a tapas bar in Pennsylvania, we have been served some amazing dishes that have tickled our taste buds and left us longing for more.  Most people probably briefly mourn the fact that they will not be able to replicate these flavors at home, but then get over it and go on with their lives.

Not me.  If a particular dish really strikes me, I have never hesitated to ask the chef of the restaurant for the recipe.  Surprisingly, I have rarely been shot down.  The first time I requested a recipe, the chef copied down my email address on the back of an order ticket and stuck it in his back pocket before heading back into the kitchen.  I assumed that I would never hear from him again.  However, the next morning he emailed the recipe in its entirety.  Most of the time, they are simply flattered that I enjoyed the dish so much that they are more than happy to share.

That is exactly how I obtained this soup recipe.  I tried it while out to dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants and the chef happily passed the recipe along to me!  Now, I know there are probably a million different recipes out there for chicken tortilla soup, but this one is truly fantastic.  Fresh vegetables are simmered with mexican herbs before being pureed with some Pepperjack cheese to a smooth consistency.  Roasted, shredded chicken is then added and the entire mixture is gently reheated before being spooned into bowls and topped with sour cream, green onions, avocado, salsa, cheese, and more tortilla chips (or nothing at all as it is delicious on its own!).  This is a fantastic, full-bodied soup that I could eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and I usually spend a week doing just that if I make the full batch since it feeds an army!).  Perfect for a chilly evening!

Chicken Tortilla Soup
from my Chef Buddy

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups diced yellow onions
1 1/2 cups chopped, peeled carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 1/2 cups chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped garlic
6 cups rough chopped fresh tomatoes (do NOT substitute canned)
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
10 cups chicken stock
2 cups crushed tortilla chips
1 1/2 cups shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
2 cups roasted, shredded chicken

Heat vegetable oil in dutch oven over medium high heat and add vegetables.  Saute until tender, stirring frequently.

Add the tomatoes, seasonings and chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer and let cook down for at least 20 minutes on medium heat.  I like to let it simmer for about 1 hour to develop flavor.

Add the broken tortilla pieces and simmer for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove the pot from the heat and blend the soup in batches until mixture is smooth, adding a handful of cheese to each batch and before pureeing until smooth.  Return the soup to the pot and gently fold in the roasted chicken.  Gently reheat the entire mixture over medium-low heat.

Spoon into bowls and finish with your favorite toppings!

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