There’s nothing better than a tasty, gut-warming soup when it’s cold outside. Add a little fresh bread, maybe some cheese, and a glass of wine (see our story on winter wines), and you’ve got the perfect winter feast. This Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe, courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen, is and easy-to-make crowd pleaser!
Why this recipe works: This turbocharged take on chicken soup features a spicy, tomatoey broth overflowing with garnishes and tender shredded chicken. To replicate the traditionally deep, smoky, roasted flavor of the broth in a slow cooker, typically achieved by charring the vegetables, we browned some of the vegetables in a skillet before adding them to the slow cooker. Using chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (which are dried, smoked jalapeños in a spicy chile sauce) also added some smokiness along with a spicy kick. For even more heat, include the jalapeño seeds. Don’t omit the garnishes; the flavor of the soup depends heavily on them.
Serves: 6 to 8
Cooking time: 4 to 5 hours on low
Slow cooker size: 5 to 7 quarts
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 tomatoes, cored and chopped
- 1 onion, chopped fine
- 2 jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 10 (6-inch) corn tortillas (4 torn into ½-inch pieces, 6 halved and cut crosswise into ½-inch strips)
- 1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
- Salt and pepper
- 8 ounces Cotija cheese, crumbled (2 cups)
- 1 avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into ½-inch pieces
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup minced fresh cilantro
- Lime wedges
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add tomatoes, onion, half of jalapeños, garlic, 2 teaspoons chipotle, and tomato paste and cook until onion is softened and beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup broth, scraping up any browned bits; transfer to slow cooker.
- Stir remaining 5 cups broth and tortilla pieces into slow cooker. Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4 to 5 hours on low.
- Meanwhile, wipe skillet clean with paper towels. Heat remaining 1 cup oil in skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add tortilla strips and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer tortilla strips to paper towel-lined plate; discard remaining oil. Season tortilla strips with salt to taste and let cool slightly to crisp.
- Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces using 2 forks. Whisk soup vigorously for 30 seconds to break down tortilla pieces. Stir in chicken, remaining jalapeños, and remaining 1 teaspoon chipotle and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, passing tortilla strips, Cotija, avocado, sour cream, cilantro, and lime wedges separately.