Thick and spicy chicken tortilla soup

This soup surprised me. I have an old standby recipe for Southwest Chicken Chili, but my husband asked for something spicier and a little more “like a soup”. I decided to try this unconventional recipe, trusting all the rave reviews. The unfamiliar idea of using corn tortillas as a thickener seemed awkward, but I gave it a shot anyway.

The soup looked unremarkable on the stove, but upon tasting it, my husband claimed it’s the best thing I’ve ever made. Ever. At first, the spice level caught my delicate palate by surprise, but then it grew on me. The depth of flavor is addicting! By the time we’d finished the entire batch, we’d decided this was an Always-Have-On-Hand recipe. I plan to make more very soon; four thumbs way up!

Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Thick and Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup
(Original recipe: Chowhound)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 small carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, but the cream balances the heat)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1/2 cup tomato puree
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
5 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 ripe, fresh avocado, cut into large chunks
Shredded cheese (Monterey Jack or sharp Cheddar recommended)
Sour cream

Saute onion, carrot, celery, and bell pepper in large saucepan over medium heat until softened, about 6 minutes.
Add the garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, oregano, paprika, and cayenne and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add broth, water, tomatoes, salt, and pepper; stir to combine, and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low, add the cut tortillas pieces, and stir to combine. Simmer about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Use a handheld mixer to blend until smooth.
Add the heavy cream, cooked chicken, and chives. Simmer until heated through. Add more S+P if needed.
Serve the soup over chunks of fresh avocado and topped with shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

*Especially excellent topped with crushed tortilla chips.

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