So, I told y’all I grew up out in the boonies? Right? Because of this, we rarely ate out. The only time we ever went to a non-drive through was when my parents drove to the ‘big city’ to buy our Christmas tree. This was a BIG deal to me because we always ate at Red Lobster. I thought we were rich. A 7-foot Frasier Fur and popcorn shrimp in the same night?! Daddy must have got a raise!
Besides the Red Lobster tradition every year, I have one very memorable restaurant experience. One of my mom’s sisters had three daughters. They were a few years older than me, but I adored them. Still do. I wanted to be like them, dress like them, live where they lived. They all moved away from the country and lived in the ‘Big City’ where we went to purchase our Fabulous Frasier Fur every year.
One Saturday, my Momma and I met up with her sister and her three girls. They took us to their favorite local diner to eat. Because I just adored them, when they said ‘they have the BEST tortilla soup’…well….guess what I ordered?
Now, I had no idea what tortilla soup was. Unless Momma made me homemade chicken noodle when I had strep throat….Campbell’s Chicken and Stars was the extent of my knowledge when it came to soups.
So, I ordered the soup…and my oh my….it was FABULOUS! I felt so grown up and Big-Cityish– siting with all the grown up girls in the non-Red Lobster Restaurant eatin’ my soup and drinking my iced tea. It still gives me the warm and fuzzies.
Fast forward several years when my husband (then boyfriend) and I needed a place to study and catch a bite to eat. I mentioned this diner…and he’d never been there. Long story short, I made him try the tortilla soup, and he loved it. And thus began my epic quest to hone in on a recipe that came close to theirs.
Here’s what I’ve come up with. It’s pretty close. My husband and I love it. Our boys do too! They refer to it as ‘our favorite soup’. It’s picture-mania first, followed by the recipe.
I hope it brings back some warm and fuzzy memories for you too!
Fabulous Tortilla Soup
- 3-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (sliced or cubed)
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 3 cups water
- 1 packet taco seasoning
- 1 tsp. Minced garlic...fresh or jarred.
- 1 onion (white or yellow will do), chopped finely
- 1 bell pepper, chopped finely
- 1 can Rotel (or the generic version...choose the hot-factor you prefer)
- Yellow, white, or red corn tortillas (At least 10, more if you like to avoid a fight...)
- Olive Oil
- Vegetable or Canola Oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Shredded Cheese
- Avocado (optional)
- Sour Cream (optional)
- In a deep pot (don't even ask me about quart sizes...just eye it), saute the onion, garlic, and bell peppers in about 3 Tbls. of olive oil.
- Once the onions and bell peppers are tender, add in diced chicken, and half the packet of Taco Seasoning mix. Allow chicken to cook on each side....browning is not necessary.
- Add 1 can of Rotel or the generic stuff, juice and all. Cover with 3 cups of chicken broth and 3 cups of water. This is a personal decision. You can forgo the chicken broth and use all water. I do that if I'm out of broth. My husband loves the broth flavor and I love to make him happy. So, it's broth for me :)
- Allow this to come to a full boil for about 30 minutes or longer if you're not a procrastinator and have time to let it really mature before the dinner bell rings. Me, being the last minute, fly by the seat of my pants type of gal I am....usually spoon it into bowls still scalding and then must administer ice cubes to tongues. I'm a good mom like that.
- While this is boiling, use a smaller pot and fill ½-3/4 of the way with Vegetable or Canola Oil. Heat on med-high heat. Chop the corn tortillas into very thing strips and fry in batches for about 1-2 minutes or until crispy. Too long will make them taste burny, too little will make them chewy. It's an art. They won't tell you that on Food Network...
- Drain the tortilla strips on a paper towel and set aside. Make lots of these b/c little hands will sneak up throughout the time your soup is maturing and sneak these strips. Trust me.
- Then, just ladle your soup into large bowel, top with tortilla strips, cheese, avocado, sour cream and even some cilantro if you'd like.
It’s SOOO yummy. I would imagine it would freeze pretty well too. I’ve never tried it. Enjoy!!!
**For a vegetarian/Lenten option….just don’t add the chicken or chicken broth. Simply skip that step and add all water or vegetable broth and it’ll be just as yummy!