Chicken Tortilla Soup: Slow-Cooker Style
One of the things I miss most about my time in Austin, TX, is the prevalence of Chicken Tortilla Soup. This Tex-Mex version of the recipe satisfies that craving. Don’t skip the toasted tortilla strip garnish — that’s what makes this “chicken tortilla soup,” and it adds a wonderful texture to the finished soup. Unless it’s summertime in Iowa, canned tomatoes have more flavor than fresh, so that’s what I use here. This is also a great way to use leftover roasted chicken (instead of the chicken breasts) — just shred the already cooked chicken and add it along with the other ingredients. You can cook this soup on the stove and serve it in about 30 minutes, but the payoff of using a slow cooker is that the flavors have time to marry, resulting in a soup with greater depth.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
For the soup:
2 chicken breasts
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
4-5 fresh green chile peppers, chopped or 1 (4-oz.) can diced green chile peppers
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 (15-oz.) can low-sodium chicken broth
1 (15-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (10-oz.) can enchilada sauce
1 1/3 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
juice of one lime
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
For the tortilla strip garnish:
4 to 5 corn tortillas
cheddar cheese, shredded
Put the chicken breasts in the slow cooker along with all of the other soup ingredients except the lime juice and cilantro. Cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Remove the chicken breasts and shred them by pulling them apart with two forks. Return the shredded chicken to the soup.
Brush the corn tortillas with vegetable oil, and cut into narrow strips. Spread the strips out on a baking sheet and toast them in a 400 F oven for 5 – 10 minutes, or until crisp. Watch carefully to be sure the tortilla strips don’t burn.
Stir the lime juice and chopped, fresh cilantro into the soup. Ladle into bowls and top with toasted tortilla strips, avocado, cheddar cheese and/or sour cream.