Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup


For the soup:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, medium dice (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 small carrot, peeled and medium dice (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 medium celery stalk, medium dice (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 medium red bell pepper, medium dice (about 1/4 cup)
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups (1 quart) stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
4 to 5 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

For the tortilla strips:

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

To finish:

1 1/2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (about 8 ounces)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Optional garnishes:
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Thinly sliced scallions
Sour cream


For the soup:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and bell pepper and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 6 minutes.

Add the garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, oregano, paprika, and cayenne and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, water, tomatoes, and measured salt and pepper, stir to combine, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low, add the tortillas, and stir to combine. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tortillas have disintegrated and the soup has thickened, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, make the tortilla strips.

For the tortilla strips:

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking (about 350°F on a deep-frying/candy thermometer), about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, stack the tortillas on a cutting board. Cut the stack in half, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips; set aside. Line a baking sheet with paper towels; set aside.

When the oil is ready, add half of the tortilla strips and fry, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to the prepared baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining tortilla strips; set aside.

To finish:

When the soup is ready, add the chicken and cream and stir to combine. Simmer until the flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Serve the soup topped with the tortilla strips, passing any desired garnishes on the side.

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