Tortilla Soup, Hold The Tortillas.

Posted by on Dec 8, 2012 in 21DSD, Chicken, Dinner, Lunch, Paleo, soup | 6 comments

Soup and I go way back.

It’s safe to say that one of my earliest memories is of my mom making it. It was always chicken soup, and she somehow managed to have a pot of it on the stove before you could get out the choo Of aaaah-choo. (And ask anyone, I pronounce the choo)

Then, when I got my first job cooking at Paradise Eatery and Market in Willimantic, CT , one of my jobs was to make the soup of the day. The (smart) owners understood the value of consistency in the food industry, and there was a recipe book for each and every recipe that was prepared there. I simply followed recipes from a big book. But I learned a lot.

Soup is a bit of a formula, and once you learn how to make a few basic ones, you’ll find that you can make just about anything into soup. (See homework below!)

The next time I got hired as a cook, I was asked if I knew how to make soup. Of course! I said. But there was no book at the Apple Blossom Cafe in Ithaca NY. Total hippie establishment. Consistency wasn’t in the vocabulary there. I panicked for a second, and then got it together and realized that I did indeed know how to make soup. It was, in fact, my specialty.

This turned into a bit of a pattern. I managed to be in charge of the daily soup at most of the restaurants I worked at. I’m the soup lady.


Jicama sticks are the perfect crunchy complement. What’s missing? I forgot to buy cilantro! Still yummy.

This is the soup that made me famous. What’s that? Oh RIGHT. I’m not actually famous. Well then this is the first thing I made that really felt like mine. I’m sure there was a recipe I saw at some point that inspired me, but I added and subtracted and tasted until it was perfect. I used to fry my own tortillas to top the soup with. Not so much anymore, but I’m not saying it won’t ever happen again.

Spicy Tomato Soup with Chicken and Lime

serves 4

1 medium onion, small dice
2 roasted peppers or a 12-14 oz jar, small dice (reserve the liquid if using jarred)
1 tablespoon bacon fat, coconut oil or ghee
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chipotle paste* or chipotle peppers in adobo
12-14 oz diced jarred tomatoes 
3 cups chicken stock, preferable homemade
2 cups cooked chicken (I used about 2/3 of the breast meat from a perfect roast chicken)
1 avocado, diced
4 lime wedges
fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

  • In a large heavy bottomed pot, sauce the onion in bacon fat over medium heat until golden, 3-4 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  • Add the salt, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika and sauté another 30 seconds or so, just enough for the spices to become fragrant.
  • Add the roasted peppers and chipotle paste, 1/4 cup of the reserved roasted pepper liquid, and tomatoes. Simmer 2-4 minutes
  • Add the chicken stock and simmer for at least 10 minutes. You can let it simmer longer, I like to let it go for 30 minutes or so. Not necessary, but nice for flavor development.
  • Stir in the chicken and simmer another minute or two, just enough to warm the chicken.
  • Serve with lime wedges, avocado, and fresh cilantro.

 Homework Time! (Don’t worry, it’s just for extra credit)

Since I mentioned that soup creation is somewhat of a formula, can you take this basic recipe and turn into a different kind of soup? What comes to mind? I’m really just curious :)

* I use Chipotle People chipotle paste. If you can’t find it, just make sure and check the ingredients before you buy- Many of them have undesirable ingredients, specifically gluten!

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  1. whaaat- so I am currently going through all your detox posts and reeeally enjoying them (I’m blogging my detox, too). Why/how was your first cooking job in Willi?? That’s where I am!!

    • You’re in Willi?! No way! I used to go to ECSU, and worked at a little vegetarian place on that main drag there. It’s not there anymore, I’m not sure how much still is since I was there, which was over 15 years ago!
      So excited to check out your blog!

  2. Made this soup for dinner and it was delicious! I usually make recipes and think of ways to improve or tweak them but this is perfection just as is!!

  3. Soup is one of my favourites! I love it for breakfast, since it’s a great way to cover all your nutritional bases before racing out the door to work. (Don’t judge me for my snooze-button addiction!) Cheap, easy to make, and versatile = win!

    Bear in mind that I haven’t actually tried this, but my extra-credit answer would be Greek chicken soup–sub in some oregano, garlic and roasted red peppers and serve with lemon wedges. :)

    • Greek Chicken Soup sounds great! Those flavors are some of my favorites. And soup for breakfast For The Win! :)

  4. I found this recipe in your Zenbelly cookbook (our teens devoured a double batch) and have a question about the julienned plantain. I found it really difficult to use the julienne peeler as suggested – the tension of the peeler would rip the plantain apart. I ended up using a peering knife to make little strips which worked great but I’d love to know if there is a “trick” that might make it easier. Maybe the trick is get a better peeler!


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