Tortilla soup is another great winter dish that can be a one dish meal. Filled with chicken, hominy, avocados, chiles and herbs, it’s also full of great nutrition. As always, we use as many fresh ingredients as possible in this version.
This is an authentic, easy, set and forget method that can be done in your slow cooker, or in a good Dutch oven. If you’re using the latter, you can do the first few steps on the stovetop, then set in a low oven to cook for a couple hours until done.
The key to making this soup shine is having great toppings. Fresh avocado, queso fresco, limes, chopped cilantro and green onions are all great toppings.
No monterey jack cheese but mexican queso fresco, which is available in most supermarkets. No canned chiles or pimientos like you might find in some other recipes, but dried chiles that are rehydrated. You can leave them in whole when serving, but they’ll often break up and add some delicious bites to your dish.
You can pick up the chiles in the latin section of your supermarket. I like using a combination of chiles for greater depth of flavor, but if you can’t find all these varieties, that’s okay too. If I had to use only one pepper and only one was available, I would use and anchos. Ancho chiles are dried version of the green poblano peppers you can find in the market.
While ancho chiles are have deep fruity flavors of prunes, raisins, and red berries with mild to medium heat, the guajillo chile is a powerhouse with more kick. Feel free to experiment with using only one or the other or varying the ration presented in my recipe.
It’s important to toast your chiles, as this enhances their flavor and adds a bit of smokiness. You can do it over an electric burner or on a low gas flame.
First, open the peppers with your fingers and remove any seeds and the stem. Then, using stainless steel tongs, hold each chili just an inch or two above your heat source. You will see it swell and crackle a bit, and if you get a puff of smoke that’s okay too. Just try to keep the smoke to a minimum. Be sure to turn each chile to try and get it toasted all around.
You can also heat a flat saute pan to medium heat, and then press them against the surface of the pan until they bubble and smoke.
We’re using hominy here, known as “mote” in spanish. The canned kind is fine as it’s precooked, but if you do decide to use the dried kind, be sure and rehydrate it for several hours before putting it in the soup, as it takes a long time to cook.
This is one of those dishes that gets better on the second day. So set up your slow cooker and prepare it on day one. Let it cool and set aside. On day two, you can prepare all your toppings and warm up the soup. You’ll enjoy it even more after all the anticipation.
- 8 cups chicken stock
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, roasted and peeled
- 1 12 oz. can or box chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon mexican oregano
- 2 guajillo chiles, toasted and seeds removed
- 3 ancho chiles, toasted and seeds removed
- 1 12 oz. can hominy
- 2 whole chicken breasts
- 1 cup cotija or feta cheese, crumbled
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 avocados, cubed into ½" chunks
- 8 limes, halved
- green onions, sliced on a bias
- 12 corn tortillas, sliced in thin strips and fried until crispy or broken up tostada shells
- Set slow cooker to high, add oil in and place chopped onion in to cook gently 20 minutes.
- Add garlic, cook five more minutes.
- Add in chicken stock, Mexican oregano, toasted chilies, hominy, tomatoes, and chicken breasts.
- Cover and let cook 3 to 4 hours.
- Remove chicken breasts, shred chicken meat, and add back to soup.
- Prepare cheese, tortilla strips (or break up tostada shells), cilantro, avocado, green onions and limes, each in individual serving dishes.