My dad calls it taco soup. Whatever he wants to call it, I’m obligated to make it every time the family gets together. I visited my parents this year for my dad’s birthday and made a giant batch before I left. This was considered a great birthday present. I’m not going to brag, but my tortilla soup is the best. OK, maybe I’ll brag a little.
For a while, I was quite the tortilla soup connoisseur. I never passed up an opportunity to sample a bowl when going to a restaurant I had never been before. There are so many variations, I had to try as many as I could before I figured out how to make my recipe. The best ones were the simple ones that let the key ingredients shine. It’s not a stew — it’s a soup, so the ones with tons of corn, other veggies and thick, creamy broth kind of pissed me off (I’m very serious about tortilla soup). After a while, I ceased to be surprised that, for many restaurants, anything you put in a bowl with tortilla strips qualified as tortilla soup.
For this recipe, I created an amalgamation of the best soups I’d eaten over the years. The result is a simple, yet flavorful broth with nothing solid but chicken to start. It is a chicken base with a little tomato for color and chipotle for some smoky heat.
All of the other flavors are added when you serve. The rich avocado chunks, melted cheese goodness, cilantro kick and the salty crunch of fresh-made tortilla strips are added to each bowl and the soup ladled over to fill the bowl. Yes, you have to make the tortilla strips fresh. Don’t be a pansy.
A fun way to serve is to have the pot of soup with all the ingredients around and people can assemble the final soup themselves, family-style.