--I dedicate this post to anyone that was affected by the events of September 11, I hope I can help you smile today.--
What You'll Need:
1 whole rotisserie chicken
2 cans of chicken broth
6 corn tortillas
1 large chile (or 3 small ones)
1 medium onion
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/4 C of vegetable oil
3 Tbl garlic
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 C shredded cheese
1/2 bushel of cilantro
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and lining a large cookie sheet with foil. Get your tortillas and cut them into bite-size strips and spread them on the the cookie sheet, trying not to overlap them too much. Let them bake in the oven for about 8 to 10 minutes or until crispy.
Next, chop up your entire onion. You don't want the pieces to be too small in this because they add texture to the soup. Go for medium size pieces.
In a heated saute pan add the oil and the onions. Saute the onions until they become translucent. While they're cooking cut the chile and garlic if you're using fresh garlic. You can use any kind of chile you want for this. If you like a lot of spice use a jalapeno in place of one of your chiles. I got my pepper in my Farm Fresh to You delivery so I used that. My soup didn't end up spicy at all (which is probably good considering it wasn't exactly cold outside) but it still gave the soup the taste of the pepper. When the onions are ready add the peppers and the garlic to them. Let those saute too.
By now you're tortillas should be done. Take them out of the oven but leave the oven on. While they're still on the cookie sheet sprinkle a little salt on them. Not a lot, just enough to give them some extra flavor. Let them cool then place them in a bowl and set aside.Set the cookie sheet and foil aside for later.
Your saute mix should be done or close to done at this point. When it is, open both cans of chicken broth and pour them into a big measuring cup. You should get about 4 cups of broth, but if you're short then fill the rest up with regular water. Pour in your entire can of tomatoes too - juice and all!
Bring your broth/tomatoes to a boil on medium heat. While you're waiting it's time to work on the chicken. Things between you and the chicken are about to get a little personal so be forewarned. If you have a problem with this you can buy shredded chicken from the store (but that sounds kind of gross) or you can boil or shred your own chicken (but that sounds like extra work). I used the rotisserie chicken because it's already cooked, it's already seasoned, and it's super easy!
You're going to need about 2 1/2 cups of chicken. The chicken doesn't necessarily need to be shredded, but it needs to be in pieces. Start this by taking off the skin on the breast and discard, you'll want to use mostly the breast meat. Use a fork or your fingers to pick the meat off. You'll get enough from the breast meat that you won't need to use the drumsticks so cut those off and freeze them for another meal. When you have what you need, put the shredded chicken on the same cookie sheet and foil you used for the tortillas. Put the chicken in the oven for about 7 minutes. I do this because it helps dry out the meat a little so it doesn't get soggy in the soup. I use the same foil as the tortillas because the chicken will pick up any of the extra salt you sprinkled on the tortillas after they came out so they chicken stays flavorful. See, I got your back.
If you're thorough enough (if you take a long time like I do because you're also watching TV) then you're soup should be boiling by now. When your chicken is done put it in the soup.
Let everything simmer together for 5 minutes. You can chop your cilantro while this simmers.
When everything ready to plate (or bowl) then use a ladle to pour your soup into two bowls. Grab a handful of your tortilla chips and put them on top of the soup. Top your soup with cilantro and some cheese and serve right after.
There is something magical about this soup. It's not like a lot of other soups that are creamy and comforting in that way. The actual soup part is SOO flavorful with the onions and chile then you get a crunch from the tortillas and it works so well. The chicken isn't dry or mushy and the cilantro...well it's essential! I promise you'll be so full from eating this soup but you wont want to stop. Tell me that's not what cooking is all about?