This is the perfect comfort food for your diet cheat day. This cheesy Tex-Mex medley is more robust than your run of the mill broth-based tortilla soup recipe. Whether you like it mild or flaming hot, you control the heat. Stay on the safe side with fresh bells or kick it up with a vine-ripened habanero!
Believe it or not, chili peppers are part of the nightshade family. While many are familiar with nightshade as a deadly toxin, the reality is, many plants in the family are actually beneficial… and some are delicious! Chili peppers are of the genus, Capsicum, which is easy to remember because for many, the most important factor in choosing a chili is the level of capsaicinoids, which affect each chili’s heat level.
For this mexican soup recipe, use whichever pepper or combination of peppers you’d like. Anaheims have lower levels of capsaicinoids and will be milder (and may even give the soup a touch of sweetness), while a jalapeño contains more, which will make it a bit more fiery.
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 1/4 cup white or yellow onion, diced small
- 1/4 cup chili pepper (any variety), diced small
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 2 to 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons lime juice (from concentrate is fine)
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon (or more to taste) ground cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces mild cheddar cheese, shredded
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 4 to 6 corn tortillas
- In a medium pot, boil enough chicken stock to cover the chicken breasts by one inch.
- Carefully place the chicken in the pot and boil until thoroughly cooked, about 15 minutes (if they aren’t cooked through when you’re done, you can always drop them back in for a few minutes).
- Remove the chicken from the broth when it’s cooked through, reserving the liquid. Set the chicken aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Slice the tortillas into strips (size of your choice) and spray lightly with cooking spray. (Season with cayenne, cumin and salt if desired.)
- Place the tortilla strips in the oven on a greased cookie sheet or shallow pan. Toss occasionally.
- Remove the tortilla strips when they’re brown and crispy.
- In a separate large pot, sweat the onion, pepper and garlic in cooking spray over medium-low heat until the onions are translucent.
- Warm the vegetable stock to boiling in the microwave or on the stove. Add cornstarch (slowly) and mix well. Pour the thickened vegetable stock and two cups of the reserved chicken stock over the onions, peppers and garlic. Then stir in the lime juice, milk, tomatoes, cumin, cayenne pepper, Mexican oregano and salt.
- Raise the temperature to medium.
- Using your fingers or two forks, shred the chicken (it doesn’t have to be in small pieces, as it will continue to break apart in the soup).
- When your liquid is at medium, slowly add the cheese, a handful at a time, stirring constantly until well blended (it may look a little grainy as long as the pot is on the heat).
- Bring to a slight boil; then reduce the heat to simmer.
- Add the chicken, continuing to stir constantly until your soup is the desired thickness (it will continue to thicken as it cools).
- Top with tortilla strips and slices of pepper.