This is the kind of soup that satisfies everyone because it is hearty, spicy and flavorful. You can adapt this recipe according to what you happen to have in the refrigerator. I use chicken because it is my protein source of choice, but it would be equally good with pork or even firm tofu if that is your preference. Cooking is a personal endeavor and it should reflect your tastes and those of your family.
For that very reason, I choose to make my soup on the mild side rather than opting for the fiery version. If you are adventurous and tolerant of heat, you can use a hotter type of red chili powder or, even better, the already blended puree available in many supermarkets. Just remember to taste, taste & taste again as you add the spice. Never dump all of it at once. You might regret it once you take your first sip of the broth. I personally enjoy a little bit of bite, but nothing so overwhelming that it masks all other flavors. Each ingredient needs to shine!
Spicy Chicken & Tortilla Soup
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup cooked pinto beans
1 cup frozen corn kernels
6 yellow corn tortillas + 3 more for garnish
1/4 cup chopped roasted red pepper
1 1/2 cups tomato puree
3 Tbs chopped roasted green chile
Red chili powder (to taste)
3 large cloves of garlic
1 small chopped onion
2 Tbs olive oil
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 cups of water
1 large avocado
1 lime (cut in wedges)
Sea salt (to taste)
Cube the chicken and brown it (with the olive oil) in a large dutch oven style pot. Finely chop the garlic and onion, and incorporate them to the pot where the chicken is cooking. Watch carefully and keep them from burning (they would give the soup an awfully bitter taste) by stirring constantly. Once they are translucent, add the tomato puree and let simmer for 5-7 minutes. Add the pinto beans, green chile, red chile powder, corn kernels and mix well. Immediately add the water and bring to a medium boil. Cover the pot and cook for 10-15 minutes. Salt to taste.
In the meantime, cut all the corn tortillas into thin strips. Fry a handful of the strips in olive oil for a crunchy finishing touch. Reserve. (If available in your area, you can use blue corn tortillas for a more colorful garnish). Add the remaining, uncooked tortilla strips to the pot. They will start to soften and they will thicken the broth considerably. Turn off the heat and serve within 5 minutes of adding the tortillas.
You will want to have all your garnishes ready ahead of time: chopped avocado, chopped cilantro leaves, fresh lime and the crunchy tortilla strips I mentioned before. Feel free to add as much or as little as you desire…and enjoy this lovely soup.