Though my heritage is British and German, I love tortilla soup. Unfortunately, I can't order it in a restaurant because it contains too much salt. The excess salt makes my ankles swell, which is uncomfortable and dangerous for someone like me who takes blood pressure medication. Could I make tortilla soup at home?
I decided to give it a try, searched my cookbooks, and found several recipes. An Internet search came next and I found dozens more. The local newspaper also published a recipe. After reading enough recipes to make my eyes cross, I combined several recipes and added my own touch.
Tortilla soup is popular in many states. Barbara Hansen describes two California versions in her "Los Angeles Times" article, "A Bowl of Mexican Soup." In Mexico City, she begins, the classic soup is chicken broth combined with roasted tomatoes, onion, garlic, chiles and tortillas cut into strips. In California, the soup often has a tomato base thickened with ground tortillas or is bean soup with fried tortillas.
"A great tortilla soup can be a revelation," she writes, "rich with an intriguing roasted-corn flavor, vibrant with color and toasty, tantalizing aromas." Nobody seems to know the origin of the soup, though some speculate it came from leftovers.
I wanted a quick version of this Mexican favorite, something with lots of flavor and only a little salt. My pantry contained most of the ingredients I needed, a can of fire roasted tomatoes, a can of chopped chiles, and a carton of salt-free chicken stock. Authentic recipes always contain cilantro, something I don't like, so I left it out. If you like cilantro, add it to the soup.
Much to my amazement, I found salt-free taco chips in the Mexican section of my grocery store. You may use salted chips if you wish. The preparation time for my recipe is 10 minutes at the most. I simmered the soup for 20 minutes, but you may simmer it longer, or transfer it to a slow cooker. My husband and I had the soup for lunch, but it can easily become a dinner with the addition of salad and flan for dessert.
2 tablespoons olive oil
14-ounce package of chicken tenders
1 medium onion, finely chopped
14.5-ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes
32-ounce carton salt-free chicken stock
4-ounce can diced green chilies
1 cup frozen corn
Garlic powder to taste
1 teaspoon lower sodium taco seasoning
1/2 teaspoon lower sodium salt (may be omitted)
Salt-free tortilla chips
Shredded Cheddar cheese, made with 2% milk
Cut the chicken tenders into bite-size pieces. Coat the bottom of a soup kettle or large saucepan with olive oil. Add chicken and saute over medium heat until it becomes Add the chopped onions and cook for one minute. With the exception of the tortilla chips, add all of the other ingredients. Cover and simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes. Ladle into bowls and top with crushed Mexican chips. Garnish with lime wedges, chopped avocado, shredded Cheddar cheese, and cilantro if you like it. Makes six generous servings.