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Dorothy Dean presents: Tortilla soup with chicken, just in time for Cinco de Mayo

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with this chicken tortilla soup. (Audrey Alfaro)
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with this chicken tortilla soup. (Audrey Alfaro)

With Cinco de Mayo just days away, I can’t help but crave Mexican food.

Tacos, migas, enchiladas, tostadas – I want it all. Even Mexican soups, which are vibrant, fresh and delicious.

Growing up, I would often wake to the aroma of menudo on Sunday mornings.

This usually meant my parents partook in drinking the night before and, as the saying goes, menudo for the crudo. Crudo is Mexican slang for “hangover.” And menudo is a classic Mexican beef tripe and hominy soup loaded with spices and garnished with cilantro, lime, onions and served with warm corn tortillas. It’s known to be a hangover cure.

I loved everything about this soup. Except the tripe.

Tripe is beef stomach lining. It has a chewy texture and mild taste. It’s great for soups and stews and has a lot of fans, but I’m not one of them.

So I spent those mornings carefully navigating my spoon through my menudo, leaving behind a bowl full of tripe.

This inspired me to create a similar, but tripe-free, version. And with that, my chicken tortilla soup was born.

This festive soup is the perfect complement to your Cinco de Mayo menu. Loaded with flavor and texture, it’s savory, colorful and fresh – sure to knock your socks and sombrero right off.

The base for chicken tortilla soup is a mixture of peppers, onions, garlic, chicken stock, enchilada sauce and Mexican seasonings. Hominy, tomatoes and chicken are added, and it’s all topped with cheese, onions, cilantro, lime and fresh fried tortilla strips. Avocados and jalapeños would go great as well. And, for a creamier soup, stir in a dollop of sour cream.

For the chicken, I use a store-bought rotisserie or use up leftover chicken I have on hand. But you can roast or sauté chicken if you wish.

This recipe makes a giant pot of soup. Like, muy grande. If you’re cooking for two, or don’t want leftovers for days, you can always half it. But I guess that depends on how many margaritas you celebrate Cinco de Mayo with. Because come morning, you’ll probably be needing a bowl or two.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

For the soup:

3 tablespoons butter

1 onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 quarts chicken stock

1 (28-ounce) can red enchilada sauce

1 bay leaf

3 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1/2 lime, juice fresh squeezed

4 tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1 (30-ounce) can Mexican style hominy, drained

5-6 cups cooked chicken meat, diced

For topping:

Oil for frying

1 dozen corn tortillas

3 cups cheddar or Mexican blend cheese, shredded

1 onion, diced

1 cup cilantro, chopped

2 limes, cut into wedges

In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add in the onions, bell peppers and garlic. Cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, enchilada sauce, bay leaf, seasonings and lime juice. Stir to combine, then add in the tomatoes, cilantro, hominy and chicken. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer on low for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour about 1 inch of oil into a small frying pan set over medium-high heat. Cut the stack of corn tortillas into quarters, then cut those quarters into strips. Once oil is hot, cook the tortilla strips in batches, until light golden and crisp, about 1 minute. With a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer strips to a paper towel-lined plate.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with cheese, onions, cilantro and tortilla strips. Serve with lime wedges.


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