Monday, May 10, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

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I love a good chicken tortilla soup. When I lived up north I often would go to Max and Erma’s and get a bowl of their chicken tortilla soup to go. Mmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about that soup, Max and Erma’s serves the tastiest chicken tortilla soup I’ve ever had; it’s one of their most popular menu items. I’ve never tried to make it myself because most recipes have a long list of ingredients and being the lazy person I am, just never felt like putting forth the effort. Lucky for me I came across this recipe while browsing on Food Network. It got great reviews, looked fairly simple, and had a relatively simple list of ingredients. It ended up being really good; great flavor. However, I would have liked a bit more of a spicy kick to it. Maybe next time I make it I’ll add a serrano pepper or some adobo sauce. I made this as part of our cinco de mayo fiesta, so the chicken breast I used was seasoned with cumin, ancho chile, salt and pepper, since I was also making chicken enchiladas. I think the chicken could also be omitted without sacrificing any flavor.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
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Serves 6-8

2 ears fresh corn, husks removed
4-5 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch squares
1 can diced tomatoes with jalepenos, undrained
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 teaspoons ground cumin
6 c chicken stock
1 cooked chicken breast, fork shredded
~2 c fresh spinach
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 corn tortillas, for garnish

Optional toppings:
chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Using a large sharp knife, carefully scrape the kernels off the corncobs into a large bowl. Then, using the blunt side of a butter knife, scrape the cob in the bowl. Don’t throw out the cobs, you will need them later. Set aside kernels and cobs.

In a large soup pot, heat the oil. Add the squares of tortillas and cook over low heat until they are slightly crisp. Stir in the garlic, onion, and corn kernels, simmer just until the vegetables start to soften are coated with the oil. Do not brown.

Add the canned tomatoes, the tomato paste, and cumin and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes to maximize the flavor. Slowly pour in the stock, add the corncobs, and cook over low heat until the soup is reduced by one third.
Discard the corn cobs, season with salt, pepper, and additional cumin to taste. Stir in shredded chicken and spinach.

Prepare the tortilla strip garnish: Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 350F. Cut the tortillas into thin strips and arrange on a small baking tray. Bake until the strips are crisp, 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve with your choice of toppings: diced avocado, tortilla strips, cheese, and/or cilantro.

Source: adapted from Wolfgang Puck via Food Network

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