Ultimate Comfort Food for the Soul: #SpicyChat Chicken Tortilla Soup!

This is the kind of chicken soup that my family loves. It’s warming and comforting, with chunks of chicken and wild rice swimming in a light but flavorful broth. Be warned that this is not for the faint hearted, this soup is infused with the addictive aromas of star anise, cinnamon, and cumin. Fresh jalapeño peppers and cilantro leaves complete this assertive bowl of soup. The result is a soup that is the best chicken soup you would have with a kick from its sour/sweet/spicy flavors. The kind that burns your lips and warms your insides but you still can’t stop eating it.

The garnishes such as the smooth coolness of avocado, the tang from fresh lime juice, the burst of fresh herbs, and the crunch of fried tortilla chips add a multi textural and complex layer to the soup.

I confess that I am guilty of using store-bought stock and on occasion even bullion’s to enhance the flavors. That said, chicken stock is the key ingredient in this soup, and nothing quite beats the flavors of real slowly simmered fresh stock. Not to mention the addition of different spices at this level add an extra kick to the entire process. Yes, it is time-consuming but if you plan ahead, it is easily doable.


Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup

With a good stock base and the chicken shredded, the rest of the soup comes together really quickly.Toasting the spices not only releases their aromas it also adds depth. The addition of wild rice renders it a healthier and gluten-free version that will please all your senses. This warming soup makes you long for winter even on a nice spring day.

If heat is not your cup of tea, then feel free to omit the jalapeno, with the addition of other spices, it is still warm and flavorful.




For stock:

  • 3 carrots, chunks
  • 3 celery ribs, chunks
  • 2 onions, chunks
  • 1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds, fresh)
  • 1 head garlic
  • 3 1/2 quart cold water
  • 25 cilantro stems or culantaro
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Salt to taste

For Soup:

  • 2 star anise
  • 2 cloves or 1 black cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 jalapenos finely sliced
  • 2 limes juiced
  • handful of chopped cilantro
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 1 cup wild or brown rice
  • Salt to taste

For Garnish:

  • mixture of flour and corn tortillas, sliced long
  • 2 firm-ripe avocados, cubed
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • chopped cilantro


Make stock:

  1. Bring all stock ingredients to a boil with 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large pot, then skim foam. Reduce heat and gently simmer, uncovered, skimming foam occasionally for 2 hours.
  2. Transfer chicken to a cutting board, then pour stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl and discard solids.
  3. Shred the chicken once cool removing the skin and bones.

Finish soup:

  1. Toast spices in a skillet shaking skillet occasionally, until it releases aroma & is a shade darker. Grind the spices in a spice grinder to powder.
  2.  Add ground spices, chipotles, and 1/4 cup stock and purée in a blender.
  3.  Saute onions till translucent in a large pot, add jalapeño and sauté for 1 minute.
  4. Add stock, pureed chilies, rice and bring to boil. Simmer covered, about 30 minutes.
  5. While soup simmers, fry the sliced  tortillas till golden brown.
  6. When rice is tender, add shredded chicken, lime juice, cilantro, and salt to taste to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes. Check for seasonings.
  7. Serve hot with lime wedges, cilantro, avocado, and tortilla strips at the table.

Chicken Stock  for me turned out to a be a versatile canvas to create multi-cuisine dishes.  Why not spice up the stock, adding another dimension to your end product? For example since I was making a Mexican inspired soup I added cilantro stems, bay leaves, and star anise to the stock. Enough chatting try this recipe and do share with me your results. Happy Eating!!


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