Tortilla Soup With Chicken And Beans

Spring weather is taking its sweet time to make it’s entrance this year. While you wait for temperatures to rise, you can make dishes that are still satisfying but feature lighter ingredients to get a jump on your spring menus.

Tortilla soup balances hearty ingredients with fresh touches. Chicken stock and pinto beans provide a comforting foundation for the soup while lime juice and fresh cilantro brighten it up. Making a chicken stock from scratch can take hours, but this recipe cuts the process down to under thirty minutes. To make a flavorful stock and cook the chicken for the soup at the same time, boil chicken breasts with canned broth, traditional chicken stock seasonings and water. There’s no need to wait for in-season tomatoes when canned diced tomatoes work just as well.

To serve, layer tortilla strips in the bottom of a large soup bowl, then ladle the soup into the bowl. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with your favorite spicy tomato salsa and shredded Jack cheese.

The Chicken and Chicken Stock:

  • 2 whole chicken breasts
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 2 ribs celery, coarsely cut-up
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 3 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 10 1/2-ounce cans concentrated chicken broth
  • 6 cups water

In a large pot, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered for 25 minutes, or until the chicken is fork tender. Remove chicken to a side dish. Allow to cool. Remove skin and cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, cover and set aside. Strain the stock and set aside.

The Soup:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 6 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, (or 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes)
  • 1 24-ounce jar Randall Pinto Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 cups reserved chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • The reserved chopped chicken
  • Salt and hot pepper sauce, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion and sauté, stirring for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, beans and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Add the lime juice and reserved chicken. Cook, uncovered for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and hot sauce. Garnish and serve.

The Garnish:

  • 6 corn tortillas, cut into small strips
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Fry the tortilla strips in enough 365° oil to cover. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle a handful of the crisp tortilla strips into a large soup bowl. Ladle hot soup over the tortillas. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately. Pass the extra tortilla strips for “croutons.”

8 servings.

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