i have been in Mexico since the beginning of November and at my disposal are fresh, homemade tortillas. i can drive two minutes to the very small corner store that carries wine, milk, water, dog food and also find warm, handmade tortillas. who is better than me?!
tortillas are a main staple in the Mexican diet. they are used in combination with different sauces, meats, cheeses, and vegetables; and they are used to prepare numerous dishes such as enchiladas, tacos, quesedillas, chilaquiles (my favorite Mexican breakfast!), tostados and flautas. tortillas are served at every meal in the Mexican household. and most folks here in Mexico make them fresh, even for breakfast–requiring whoever is preparing breakfast to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to have warm tortillas at the breakfast table.
i have been feeling a little under the weather; and my heart has been longing for home—for my house; for my kitchen; for my bed; for my dog; for my boyfriend. i was in need of a pot of soup to nurse the cold coming on and my heavy heart. and well, while in Mexico…..i went into the kitchen and made a pot of tortilla soup. the tortillas are used to thicken the soup and as a garnish. i like to add any vegetables i may have in the fridge to make this soup more hearty. i had some carrots that were losing their snap so in the soup they went. so, in addition to what is in this recipe, feel free to add any veggies you like.
6 tablespoons canola oil
8 6-inch corn tortillas, halved and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
5 large cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
4 and 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
one 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
3 bay leaves
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup lightly-packed cilantro leaves
2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 cup of 1-inch sliced carrots
1 avocado, cut into 1/2-inch dice
in a large pot, heat the oil over moderately high heat. add half the tortilla strips and cook, stirring, until pale golden, about 1 minute. remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. repeat with the remaining tortilla strips.
reduce the heat to moderately low. add the onion, garlic, and spices; cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. add the broth, tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, cilantro leaves, and one-third of the tortilla strips. bring to a simmer. cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes; remove the bay leaves.
puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor; pour it back into the pot. add the chicken and carrots and bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for approximately 45 minutes. stir in the diced avocado.
to serve, ladle the soup into bowls, top with remaining tortilla chips, cilantro leaves, avocado and a lime wedge.