Tortilla Soup: A Retrospective

When we lived in the Great State of Texas (and I say that with all sincerity – Texas will always be my hearts’  homeland) there was a restaurant called Tia’s that served the best tortilla soup.  I’m not sure what it was about this particular tortilla soup that made it so amazing, but amazing it was.  At that point in my life, I was too busy changing diapers and chauffeuring children hither and yon to stop and analyze a meal that I enjoyed.  It tasted great and I didn’t have to make it myself – that was enough.  Today, in the leisure of the waning years of my life I would very likely be quite intent upon figuring out what was in that soup that made it so good.  In any case,  we ate there every chance we could.   But life has a way of moving on and our life moved us far away from Texas and Tia’s and their wonderful tortilla soup.  But wherever we were, if we were eating out and the menu included tortilla soup we would order it, hoping to find some that matched Tia’s level of tortilla soup excellence.  We found good tortilla soup – even very good tortilla soup – but never tortilla soup to compare with Tia’s.  So I gave up.  However, lately I have once again gone into  search mode, but for a recipe rather than a restaurant since celiac disease has rendered my happy go lucky restaurant eating days  mostly obsolete.  And late last year, I think I found it!  Now, it’s been so long since I have had the real deal (Tia’s has been out of business for many years) that I couldn’t say for sure that this is just like theirs.  But it is good.  It is very good.  It is very, very, very good.  And it is easy to boot, which is a big plus.  You can make it in a slow cooker so it can be waiting for you when you get home from wherever you have been, tired and world weary and in need of the type of the comfort that only a big bowl of wonderful homemade soup can give.

Lin Walker’s Official Favorite Tortilla Soup in the Whole Wide World

2 cans diced tomatoes (I’m really a fan of the fire roasted diced tomatoes if you can find them)

1 qt of chicken broth

2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 cup of your favorite salsa

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

4 large carrots, chopped into 1/4″ rounds

2 Tbsp ground cumin

1/8 tsp cinnamon

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

toppings: Monterey Jack cheese (shredded), sliced avocados, chopped cilantro, tortilla chips, sour cream, some limes to squeeze on top

Combine all the ingredients except the chicken breast in a slow cooker and mix well.  Add the chicken.  Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.  At this point the chicken should be cooked and easy to shred so take it out and shed it with two forks.  Return to the slow cooker and mix it in well.  Serve with your choice of the topping ingredients (and why you would eliminate any one of them is beyond my comprehension.)

Do you remember those Xochitl tortilla chips I was telling you about?  Well, this is a good time to feature them.  Placing a few chips artfully on each bowl of soup helps you get some mileage out of that heftily priced bag.  People don’t tend to go hog wild on the chips when they’re an accompaniment to soup like they do when they’re scooping up salsa with them.

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6 Responses to “Tortilla Soup: A Retrospective”


  1. 1 clair March 29, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I would love to move to Texas. I have been to Dallas twice, Irving and Carrollton once each, Austin once and San Marco once. The people were friendly and gracious, in fact, I was never able to buy one meal there when I was putting on a training. I had tortilla soup at a little restaurant in Austin and it was great. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant but it was in the old part of town on a corner. Old.

    • 2 kcwoman April 2, 2010 at 4:00 pm

      I would move back to Texas in a New York minute. In my experience people either love it or hate it. I have been in many states in the course of my life and I have never been in another one that even approaches Texas’ state pride – there are Texas flags everywhere. As well as US flags. Check out the Lyle Lovett song – “That’s Right – You’re Not From Texas.”

  2. 3 Lissa April 1, 2010 at 2:56 am

    I love tortilla soup and it is a good choice for us watching our weight or at least trying to…heehee! I am definitely going to try this – I am with Clair on the friendly and gracious people of Texas….I loved the people I met in the six months I lived there and I also never had a bad watermelon….the people and the watermelon of Texas rock!

  3. 4 kcwoman April 1, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    This one is actually quite excellent without any of the (mostly calorie laden!) toppings. I agree – Texans, both people and watermelon totally rock!

  4. 5 Vanette October 9, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Linn,
    I ate this soup at my Cousin Janet’s house in Flower Mound and fell in love with it. Janet shared our web site with me and I am on my way to the market to buy the ingredients to make my own batch of tortilla soup. My daughter-in-law is a vegetarian, so I’ll have to leave out the chicken, but I’ll just add some extra seasoning to give it a boost.
    Love your blog!

    • 6 kcwoman October 9, 2010 at 10:27 am

      Vannette,
      I’m glad you liked it – it is an all time favorite around here! In addition, thank you for your kind note of a week or two ago (via snail mail) – it was much appreciated. I always wished your visits to Janet and mine had coincided more. Now that wild woman is off to China! I’m sure she’ll have tales to tell!


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