Hearty Tortilla Soup with Roasted Vegetables


Before I moved to France, and then to LA, I used to be a Chicago gal. I absolutely loved the Tortilla Soup at Rick Bayless's Frontera Grill. Unfortunatley, save for tortillas, I couldn't find most of the ingredients here-- so I made up my own recipe. And, not to honk my own horn, it's pretty damn tasty, so I'm sharing it with you. Voilà. Cheers to French-Mexican fusion. J'adore limes...and add the juice of quite a few to the stock. Season to your tastes!

The main ingredients at a glance.

The deep-fried tortilla chips are always a hit. I make a lot!



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Ingredients:
  • 1 package corn or flour tortillas, sliced into strips
  • 1 cup vegetable oil, plus extra for roasting vegetables
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 2 red onions, sliced
  • 2 heads garlic, peeled and divided into cloves
  • 2 large skinless/boneless chicken breasts*
  • 4-6 cups chicken stock- one cup per person (for homemade, click here) **
  • 1 14-16 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. paprika, divided
  • 1/2 diced avocado per person for garnish
  • Juice of 3 limes, plus 1/2 lime per person for garnish
  • cilantro for garnish
  • shredded cheese for garnish (I use gruyère here in France)
  • jalapeno slices (optional for garnish) 
  • sour cream or crème fraîche for garnish
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
* Pescetarians can subsitute chicken with 4-5 peeled and uncooked shrimp per person, adding them into the soup to cook. 

**Vegetarians and pescetarians can subsitute chicken stock with vegetable stock.

Instructions:
Pre-heat the oven to 425° F. Then, make the deep-fried tortilla chips, as they can be set aside...and you can nosh on them while you're cooking. In a medium-sized pot, heat up the vegetable oil on high heat, about ten minutes. Drop a tortilla strip into the oil to test it. Once the strip starts turning golden on the edges, remove it with a slotted spoon. It will harden and become crunchy. You're good to go. Deep-fry the strips in small batches, removing them with a slotted spoon, and setting them on a paper-towel lined plate to drain the oil. As you fry, keep in mind that oil is getting hotter, so each ensuing batch will take less time. Aim for a golden color--not too dark, Goldilocks right. Also, be careful with hot oil. When finished, let it cool down before disposing it. I place paper towles in the garbage can and pour the oil over them. You don't want to clog your sink!

Place the sliced peppers, onions, and garlic on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, coating them. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes. While roasting, bring a medium-sized pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place the chicken in the water and boil for 8-10 minutes. When it's done, remove the chicken from the water and set aside until the chicken is cool enough to handle. Shred the chicken with your fingers, pulling the pieces into strips. Season with paprika and salt and pepper, to taste.

Combine the chicken stock, canned tomatoes, and chili powder in a pot. Add in the roasted vegetables and chicken***, bringing the soup to a simmer. Season with lime and additional chili powder, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Place all garnishes, including the deep-fried tortilla chips, in bowls or on plates. Serve the soup warm with the garnishes on the side. Enjoy!

***If using shrimp, they will need to cook for about 8 minutes, until pink and rosy. Before adding, I do season the shrimp with paprika and salt and pepper. Sometimes I'm a rebel and use both chicken and shrimp.



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