Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe made with smoked chicken is a great comfort food with a smoky twist. You can smoke a whole chicken in advance and then the soup can be made later in the week.
Chicken tortilla soup screams comfort with its warm broth, fresh herbs and spices, and a little heat. It’s one of my favorite things to try at a Mexican restaurant (especially during colder months), to see all the variations from restaurant to restaurant. And we have learned some of the little things can make a big difference when it comes to adding great depth of flavor, like using smoked pulled chicken as the base.
Origins of Chicken Tortilla Soup
Tortilla soup may go back as far as the Aztecs, and is considered a comfort food in Mexico City. The flavor is not necessarily about how many specific ingredients go into it, but more about the quality of the ingredients. There are two main ingredients that make this particular chicken tortilla soup stand out.
- Great Chicken Stock – Preferably home made, but if not, seek out a good quality flavorful broth. Smoked Chicken Stock is even better. And Bonus – we have a smoked chicken stock in our cookbook Fire + Wine that adds incredible flavor to any soup.
- Flavorful Shredded Chicken – That’s where the smoked chicken comes in.
From there it’s like most other versions of chicken tortilla soup. Combine the ingredients and then let it simmer to incorporate, then top your soup with all the things!
How To Make Smoked Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Start by Smoking a Whole Chicken, and then shred the meat in prep for making the soup. This can be done in advance. Need to make this in a hurry? Grab a roaster chicken from the store (it just won’t result in that smoked flavor we’re going for here).
- In a large soup pot, sauté onions, jalapeño peppers, and garlic.
- Add dry spices, and incorporate to give a slight char.
- Combine remaining liquids and ingredients and simmer.
- Serve and top with fried tortilla strips, shredded cheese, avocado slices, and whatever else your heart desires.
If you like broth heavy soups, then feel free to add two more cups of broth. This soup isn’t going to reduce much like say, a chili. But we try to balance the right amount of broth and the other ingredients so we get a healthy spoonful of all the ingredients.
How to Make Fried Tortilla Strips
- In a small cast iron pan, heat up extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. About 1/2 cup worth. You want some depth to the oil, but not filling the pan.
- Slice corn tortillas in small thin strips (1/4 to 1/2 inch thick).
- Drop a small handful of tortilla strips into the hot oil and move them around to be sure coated and fried.
- Remove after 1 minute, or when the color browns slightly.
- Place on a tray lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil.
- Salt lightly while warm.
For added flavor, juice 1/2 a lime and toss the strips in lime after they have been fried and salted.
It may be more work but for even more flavor to your smoked chicken tortilla soup, consider some of the following.
- Grill, smoke, or roast the corn. The little extra step (and char) will add great flavor.
- Fire roast the tomatoes. Just throw them over a high heat or right into the charcoal. Then peel, slice and throw into the soup.
Other Great Soup Recipes
- Smoked Sausage and Lentil Soup
- Smoked Tomato Bisque
- Wild Mushroom Soup with Sherry and Thyme
- Smoked Chicken Coq Au Vin
- Smoked Beef Short Rib Stew
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Smoked Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe
For Tortilla Soup
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ cups diced white onion (one medium sized onion)
- 2 small jalapeños, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 4 cups chicken broth (we use homemade)
- 4 cups shredded smoked chicken
- 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (including liquid)
- 1 15 oz can black beans (rinsed)
- 1 15 oz can sweet corn (or 1 1/2 cups frozen kernals)
- 1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo (a mix of the peppers and sauce)
- 1 lime juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
- Suggested toppings: fried tortilla strips, jalapeño slices, avocado slices, shredded cheese, lime wedge, cilantro
For Crispy Tortilla Strips
- 4 large corn tortillas, sliced in thin strips about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- In a large soup pot over medium heat, add olive oil, onions, and jalapeño peppers. Cook to soften, about 5 – 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 1 minute. Adjust heat down if the onions begin to brown.
- Add chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir for 30 seconds and allow the dried spices to heat up.
- Add broth, chicken, tomatoes, beans, corn, chipotle in adobo, and lime juice. Combine and bring to a simmer. For more heat add another 1 tablespoon of adobo sauce.
- Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add salt to taste.
- Serve and top with favorite toppings.
For Fried Tortilla Strips
- In a small cast iron pan over medium heat add oil.
- In small batches, place tortilla strips in oil and fry. After 60 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate covered with paper towel. This will allow excess oil to be absorbed into the towel.
- Sprinkle a touch of salt over the tortilla strips while warm and then use as a topping for the soup.