When I think about Ina Garten, I don’t think Mexican food. I think… gourmet dinners in The Hamptons. In fact, I used to not watch her show, because I didn’t think she was relevant to me. I’m not rich, I don’t live in The Hamptons, and I certainly don’t throw fabulous dinner parties with elaborate table settings. However, I happened to catch an episode of Barefoot Contessa that completely changed my opinion of her. She was making what she referred to as “Mexican Chicken Soup,” but I know it as, Chicken Tortilla Soup. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, the soup looked amazing, and I couldn’t wait to try the recipe. Unfortunately, that was in the middle of summer, and it was probably 99 degrees outside. When the weather cooled down, I decided to try her recipe out… but I’m from Texas, and I couldn’t follow this New Yorker’s recipe without changing some things, and adding a little extra spice. I cut the amount of tomatoes in half, I eliminated the carrots, celery and coriander, and added more tortillas and jalapeños. You can find Ina’s unchanged recipe here.
Chicken Tortilla Soup (Recipe Adapted from Ina Garten)
- 2 Whole Chicken Breasts (cooked and cubed or shredded)
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 1 can crushed tomatoes
- 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (I left the seeds in one)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 10 (6-inch) white corn tortillas, cut into strips
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, 1 tablespoon salt (depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock), 1 teaspoon pepper, and the cilantro. Cut the tortillas in 1/2, then cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste.