Hye Thyme Cafe: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup : Hye Thyme Cafe

My favorite soup has, for many years, been the Tortilla Soup served at Houston's. Sadly, they're not big on sharing recipes. They also serve my favorite Spinach-Artichoke Dip, and they make a mean burger. I had some cooked chicken in the fridge to be used up and had the soup in mind, so I decided to make my own. It has been so long since I've had it now that I can't remember the taste to say how close it comes to Houston's version, but I'll be happily eating bowls of this for the next few days.

2 cloves garlic, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 lg red onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
  (with or without seeds depending on your heat tolerance)
1 T olive oil
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
2 t chili powder
1 t cumin
1/2 t smoked paprika
1 can Del Monte Zesty Jalapeno Petite Diced Tomatoes
1 can creamed-style corn
3 c chicken broth, divided
Fresh cilantro
Cooked chicken, torn or diced (I used 3 breasts)
6 oz shredded Pepper-Jack cheese
Corn tortillas
PAM Cooking Spray

Saute onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and jalapenos.

In the 1T olive oil, saute the garlic, celery, carrot, onion, and jalapeno until the carrots start to soften.

Add spices.

Stir in the salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika. Mmmm that smells good!

Add diced tomatoes and creamed corn.

Stir in the tomatoes and creamed corn, followed by 2c of the chicken broth.

Add cilantro and diced corn tortillas.

Next add a good handful of freshly chopped cilantro; I'd say 3-4 tablespoons. Tear two or three of your corn tortillas into pieces and add to the pot, letting the whole thing come up to a boil.

Reduce the heat and let simmer for about a half hour. This will give the broth a chance to reduce and concentrate, and the tortillas a chance to soften and break down to act as a thickener and boost that corn flavor.

While that's going on, stack a few more tortillas and cut them in half. Stack the halves and cut into match-stick sized strips. Line a tray with foil and spray with cooking spray, then arrange the tortilla strips on the tray and spray the tops with additional cooking spray. Bake at 350 until golden. You could deep fry them, but why waste the oil and the calories - not to mention the clean-up from potential splatters. If you want, you can certainly sprinkle them with salt when they come out of the oven, especially if you make a lot and anticipate snacking on leftovers later. 

Cut corn tortillas into strips and spray with cooking spray.
Bake tortilla strips at 350 until golden. 

As a side note, this is also how I make bagel and pita chips - sprinkling various spices on the tops after I've sprayed them. Sometimes I'll brush olive oil on a tray instead of the spray, then drizzle a little over the top.

OK, back to the soup ... now that the liquid has reduced significantly, add that additional 1c of chicken broth. That will loosen it up again while also cooling it down for the next step. If you have an immersion/stick blender, run that around the pot to puree the soup. Otherwise, transfer it in batches to a blender to puree - thus wanting to thin/cool it first with the additional broth.

Puree soup and add chicken and cheese to heat through.

Add the chicken and shredded cheese and continue cooking until the chicken is heated through and the cheese has melted.

To serve, ladle up a bowl and top with the crispy tortilla strips and any number of other goodies - a dollop of sour cream, chopped avocado, cilantro, a squeeze of lime juice, onions, a few kernels or corn or black beans, etc.

Garnish soup with crispy tortilla strips.

Garnish soup with additional fresh chopped cilantro.


  1. Wow this recipe is a keeper. No you didn't sorta make your own tortilla strips! I would be looking for them already bagged in a store but sense you mention fried and calories, I'll bake 'em. You know how kids are, my son will think it find to cut the strips. I'll let him do it with a pizza roller. Okay back to the soup - YUM!!!

    1. When I was living in New Orleans, the tortilla strips would show up in soups and salads in restaurants before I started seeing them in the grocery stores, so I was making them myself out of habit, but it really is cheaper. Then you can just freeze the rest of the tortillas for another time. :)

  2. Hi Kenya and Chris. I totally agree with you Kenya this is very unique and definitely Ill print it out again and keep in my collection of recipes (from HyeThyme).. Oh my god if I try this tonight my hubs will think am a super wife in the kitchen ha ha ha I have not heard of tortilla soup then so Ill definitely give this a go!!!!!!

    1. The first time I had it was in New Orleans, and it was thick like this. Since then, I usually see thin versions, but I prefer it this way. Hope you like it! :)


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