As I take in those first whiffs of fall air that smell like leaves and football and firewood, I notice the growl in my belly taking on a new tone. It's a different hunger--a heartier, deeper, homier hunger for foods that will give me more comfort and warmth while I sit on the couch and scream at our players. But since that summer heat is still wafting about here and there, I find myself still needing that certain warm weather spice blend that only OFD TexMex can bring me. Mid-September games are tricky like that, but I think my mom's chicken tortilla soup is the perfect solution. There are, of course, two ways to go about this: the hard way, which involves homemade chicken stock made from a chicken you probably knew by name, and the easy way, with store bought stuff. I present to you the latter, which is still easily one of the best tortilla soups I've ever had. Come, step into my kitchen, and we will make this together.
We will need:
-1 storebought rotisserie chicken
-1 32 oz can of tomatoes
-1 large onion
-6 cloves garlic minced
-1 bunch fresh cilantro
-2 tbsp ground cumin
-1 tbsp ground chili powder
-2 quarts chicken stock
-salt and pepper
-1 bag of tortilla chips
-cheese for topping (cheddar, cotija, whatever you like)
-lime wedges, chopped cilantro, diced avocado, extra tortilla chips, hot sauce for additional topping
We can start opening our can of tomatoes and getting everything ready. This is just an idea of what ingredients we will be using:
Once the oven is ready, quarter your onion, and halve your jalapenos lengthwise (after removing the stems). Then drizzle some olive oil on everything and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss in the oven for about 25 mins until there's a decent caramelization on everything.
While that's going, get three good handfuls of tortilla chips and put them in a bag. You need to pulverize them into tiny bits, so putting them in the bag makes it super easy without chip particles flying everywhere. I've learned this from experience making this soup over 100 times.
Now in a big heavy-bottomed pot, heat up a couple of table spoons of olive oil (and a pat of butter for good measure if you like):
Toss in the chip bits, the garlic, and the cilantro and fry everything in the oil until slightly toasted.
Add the chicken stock. Now, if someone put a gun to your head and demanded that you make the best chicken tortilla soup ever, you'd want to make your own chicken stock and follow the rest of this recipe, but since we have Clemson and NC State to watch tonight we need to cut a few corners.
Dismantle your rotisserie chicken (or you could dice up some chicken breast) and chop the meat up like so:
Ding! Your onions and jalapenos are ready.
Toss those bad boys into a food processor with your can of tomatoes and puree it up:
Mix the resulting puree back into the pot you just put the stock in, bring to a boil, and then turn the heat down and let simmer for 20 mins or so. Add the chicken about 5 mins prior to serving so it heats through.
While that's simmering, and if it's game day, prepare your fixins. Fixins are what really amp this soup up into proper football food. You could have a thermos of the soup at a tailgate, and line up your fixins and let people go to town. I like to have tortilla chips to crumble up and toss on top, shredded cheddar or crumbled cotija cheese, extra cilantro, lime wedges, freshly sliced jalapenos, mashed avocado, and an array of hot sauces. AND NO MAYO. Boulder hot sauce company makes some killer hot sauce FYI. Cholula is great too, but I don't remember buying that at all. Pretty sure a bottle of Cholula will just randomly spawn in your cabinet every once in a while along with a couple of potatoes.
BOOM! Chicken Tortilla soup for the FACE. You want to eat this right in your mouth. Do it. And let Sparty see you do it.