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The Unnatural Cook

a chronicle of weekly meal plans from someone who can't just throw a meal together

Tortilla Soup
(adapted slightly from O Magazine)


1 dried ancho chili

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 pkgs boneless skinless chicken thighs

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 large onion, roughly chopped

2 carrots , roughly chopped

2 stalks celery , roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic , peeled and quartered

2 teaspoons ground cumin

6 cups chicken broth

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

1/2 bunch loosely packed cilantro leaves

Corn tortillas (3 for soup, 6 – 10  for frying)

Peanut oil , for frying


Sliced avocado
Crumbled queso fresco or shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
Sour cream
Lime wedges


Place chili in a small bowl, cover with hot water and soak 30 minutes. Remove chili, stem and seed, slice into 1/2-inch strips and set aside. (I save water and replace some of chicken stock with the “ancho-water”

In a heavy Dutch oven or soup pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add chicken; season with salt and pepper. Brown on both sides

Add onion, carrots and celery. Continue to cook about 8 minutes, stirring often.

Add garlic and cumin and cook an additional 2 minutes.

Add broth, reserved chili, tomatoes and cilantro and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes.
With your hands, tear 3 tortillas into 2-inch strips and add to the soup.
Continue to simmer about 15 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, remove chicken to a cutting board; take soup off heat.

With an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. With two forks, shred chicken; return to soup. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Slice remaining tortillas into 1/4-inch strips. In a small saucepan, heat 1 inch peanut oil until very hot. Fry tortilla strips until crisp, about 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, remove strips to a paper-towel-lined plate and season with salt.

Serve soup in bowls topped with tortilla strips and any or all of the optional garnishes.  **I always squeeze lime in!

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