I also like to refer to this as “Summertime Soup.” This is a really great recipe for hot summer temps when you want soup, but don’t want extra heat. One of my favorite dishes to order at a Mexican restaurant is shrimp cocktail. It’s not your usual cocktail sauce covered shrimp. It’s lighter, zesty, and really refreshing.
We’re dealing with triple digit heat here in California. It’s too hot to grill unless you want to wait around until ten o’clock at night to fire up the grill. Two months out of the year we pretty much just hibernate in the air conditioning. This dish almost makes up for not being able to barbecue. We’ll make up a batch, invite friends over, and have margaritas, chips and salsa, and shrimp cocktail. It’s always a crowd pleaser.
What is great about this recipe is that it’s easy to play with and tweak to adjust to your tastes. When I’m looking to duplicate something I’ve had at a restaurant, I do a lot of searches and I look at a lot of recipes, what I end up making is more of a hodge podge of a dozen or so different recipes. Maybe one ingredient from this, or one idea from that, but then I add my own spin. My version of this actually has cucumber and diced tomatoes, which isn’t really found in most recipes.
This shrimp cocktail is a make ahead dish! It needs to sit 12 – 24 hours!
Plan on making this the day before you need it. It really needs to sit and chill 12-24 hours. Note that the recipe says “heaping” a lot. I’m not baking, I don’t level off my ingredients in the measuring cups. Often I eyeball my garlic pile and try to make it about the same size as my pile of chopped jalapeños. This recipe makes a big bowl of this stuff. Keep it covered in the fridge and it will last a weekend, if it lasts that long. Around here this recipe is usually long gone before it ever has a chance to go bad.
I’ve been making Chicken Tortilla Soup for nearly twenty years. I don’t think it ever comes out exactly the same every time and there’s a few reasons for that. First, this is an easy recipe to change up the produce or use what you have on hand. Second, the toppings can vary depending on what you like or have on hand, fresh pico de gallo, salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, or plain yogurt – all good on this. Cheese is great too! But, you can change that around as well, cheddar, jack, mozzarella, or queso fresco – all excellent choices. But, it’s good plain, just as pictured, garnished with some fresh cilantro and maybe a nice lime or lemon wedge.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
As a kid in the late 70s and 80s I grew up with those taco seasoning packages. You know, brown the ground beef, dump in the package content, add water, etc. I’m ashamed to admit, for the first few years I was married I even cooked with them myself. It’s a love/hate relationship with those packages. Convenience with a heavy side of salt. I haven’t used them in years and the reason is pretty simple, it’s too easy and much more healthy to recreate that flavor in your own kitchen.
With summer on the way, soup might not be a natural “go to” for dinner when it’s hot outside, but we’ve been known to make it in the dead heat of summer simply because it’s easy and it tastes so good. It’s even better the next day for lunch! Honestly, we’ve had it for breakfast with a fried egg on top… our oldest daughter likes to joke that we’ll throw a fried egg on anything and call it breakfast. There might be some truth to that!
Chicken tortilla soup is a simple, hearty recipe with the flavor of chicken tacos, the cheesiness of good nachos, and the crunch of tortilla chips. It’s ridiculously easy.
And, again, this is one of those recipes that you can play with and change up as you need. You can use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store or leftover grilled chicken breasts. It’s a great way to use up leftovers. This is my favorite way to make it, but you can throw in some potatoes, chorizo, use different squash or different vegetables altogether. But, this recipe is probably my favorite version:
Grab your favorite soup pot, add a splash of olive oil, over medium to medium-high heat add your chicken, as you lightly brown the chicken add 1 tablespoon of chili powder, 2 heavy teaspoons of cumin, 2 heavy teaspoons of garlic powder, and seasoning salt to taste. Feel free to add more of any of the seasonings. Truthfully I probably use 2 tablespoons+ of chili powder, and a solid tablespoon of cumin and garlic.
Once your chicken looks lightly browned (but not cooked through!) add your onion, celery, carrot, and peppers. Juice the lime over the top and let everyone get a little friendly, then dump in your tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, add your zucchini and cabbage. At this point, you can add a cup or so of water if it seems too thick. Continue to let it simmer until the vegetables (mainly the carrot and zucchini) are tender. After it has simmered give it a taste and add additional seasoning if it needs it.
Prepare your garnish. Serve soup over tortilla chips or with chips on the side.Garnish with sour cream, cilantro, cheddar cheese, and salsa or hot sauce. I recommend Chalula or Tapatio hot sauces.