Tortilla Soup Will Heat Up Your Weekend

tortilla soupWhat a blizzardy week! Who else is craving soup right now? But not just any soup -- something a little spicy. I love all the smoky, spicy, and tart flavors in tortilla soup. And I love all the textures, especially the crunchy tortilla chips with the creamy avocado. Chilies and chicken broth are just what the doctor ordered to keep those winter colds away.

This recipe calls for a whole, dried pasilla chile. You can find these at specialty Mexican markets or in the ethnic foods section of your grocery store. If pasilla isn't available, just about any other dried chile will work, like ancho. For a vegetarian version, use vegetable stock and tofu instead of chicken stock and cubed chicken. Now have a toasty, tasty weekend!


Classic Tortilla Soup With All the Trimmings, by Rick Bayless for Cooking Channel


  • 1 large dried pasilla (negro) chile, toasted, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 large epazote (or Mexican tea) sprig, optional*
  • 4 (5-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 1/4 pounds total)
  • 1 large ripe avocado, seeded, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 6 ounces shredded Mexican melting cheese, (like Chihuahua, quesadilla or asadero) or Monterey Jack, brick or mild Cheddar cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 6 ounces tortilla chips, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large lime, cut into 6 wedges

*Can be found at Mexican specialty markets.


  1. To toast the chile: Place the chile 1 to 2 inches above an open flame for a few seconds, or until fragrant, turning frequently or place the chile in a dry pan over medium heat, pressing the chile flat and turning once. Break the toasted chile into pieces and put in a blender along with the tomatoes with their juice. Cook's Note: A food processor will work, though it won't completely puree the chile.
  2. To make the soup: In a medium saucepan (about 3- to 4-quart) over medium-high heat, add oil and heat 1 minute. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onion and garlic pressing the mixture against the side of the pan to leave behind as much oil as possible, and transfer onion-garlic mixture to the blender. Blend until smooth.
  3. Increase the heat under the saucepan to medium-high for 1 minute. Add the onion puree and stir constantly, until thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 6 minutes. Add the chicken broth and epazote sprig. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes. Taste and season the soup with salt, usually about a generous teaspoon (depending on the saltiness of the broth).
  4. Just before serving, add the chicken to the simmering broth. Divide the avocado, cheese, and tortilla chips among 6 serving bowls. When the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes, ladle the soup into the bowls. Serve with lime.


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