I’m not sure why it is such a hit, but Z loves any kind of soup. Daycare blended homemade soups for her when she first started eating food, and soup continues to be her favorite food. (Yes, I could go on and on about how much I love her day care. And that I’m jealous of the exotic foods she eats. Or that they told me that her favorite fruit is papaya.) But soup is a great opportunity to jam veggies into our dinner in a way that guarantees success.
Tortilla soup is one of the few soups I think stands on its own for dinner. It has veggies, carbs and protein, so it feels complete. Plus, it is a really easy weeknight dinner. You can’t beat that, right? Chicken dinners are usually followed by chicken soup for us because I like to make the stock from scratch and use leftover chicken. Costco rotisserie chickens are a staple in our house because they are inexpensive and easy, plus they are hormone and antibiotic-free. My stock is a chicken carcass, a couple of chopped carrots, a couple of stalks of celery and quartered onion simmered for about an hour. Nothing fancy, but maybe more than you want to do on a work night/school night. Another reason to get that deep freezer, right?
I have a long commute (1+ hours,) so I never want to plan on a grocery stop after work. When one meeting runs over schedule, my meal plan falls apart! Soups like tortilla soup are perfect because cooked, leftover chicken lasts a few days in the fridge and all of the other ingredients store well (but watch your zucchini). So if I go grocery shopping on Sunday, I can easily make this for dinner on Thursday. That may not sound like a big deal, but I depend on these types of recipes during the week.
A few notes: homemade chicken stock really shines in this recipe. If you don’t have any, use reduced sodium. Also, making your own tortilla strips from corn tortillas is great, but crushed store-bought chips work well too. In Chicago, we have El Milagro and El Ranchero brand chips that are fabulous, but if you can’t find them, look for a thicker chip that will hold up well in soup. Cotija cheese is great because it doesn’t get stringy, which means it is easier for toddlers to eat. If you can’t find cotija cheese, shredded jack or chihuahua cheese is a great alternative. It also adds a bit of salt, so keep that in mind when seasoning your soup.
Extra Veggie Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 tablespoons of oil for sautéing veggies
1 poblano or bell pepper, sliced thin
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoonss of cumin
1 tablespoon of oregano
1 tablespoon of ground coriander
1 small or 1/2 of a large zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced thin
1 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed
2 cup of frozen corn, thawed
2.5 quarts of chicken stock
1 15 oz can of diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 4 oz can of of diced green chilies
2 cups of shredded chicken
salt to taste
Cotija, jack or chihuahua cheese, shredded or crumbled
4 corn tortillas or about a dozen tortilla chips, smashed
For tortilla strips:
Preheat oven to 425 °.
Slice tortillas in half and then into ¼” strips and spread evenly on a cookie sheet. Spray with oil and sprinkle salt on top.
Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the strips get crunchy.
Sauté peppers and onion in the bottom of a large pot until they are softened, around 5 minutes.
Add in cumin, oregano and tomatoes and mix well, and continue to sauté for a couple of minutes, until the mixture is fragrant.
Add chicken broth, chicken, tomatoes, black beans, corn and zucchini.
Simmer for 7 minutes before serving, or until zucchini is soft.
Serve with garnishes.