Chicken Tortilla Soup

Sat. May 1, 2010 12:00 AM
by Brad Mercil

Welcome to my new column Edible Objective. This column will focus on all things food. Here are a few examples, how to select the right menu, food preparation and cooking, shopping for the right ingredients, and entertaining and how to have fun in the kitchen. I'll also get into my philosophy towards food and cooking and occasionally I will let you know what bugs me when I'm cooking with someone else in my kitchen. If you're like me, you might not appreciate everyone's help, but that's another column!

I live in Chicago where many diverse ethnic communities have established themselves. This diversity leads to lots of food choices. For me grocery shopping is an adventure. When I walk into a grocery store, I see hundreds of meals that could be made from the fresh produce, meat, seafood, poultry and spices. I love discovering new things. A new vegetable or a new spice can really do it for me. On the other hand, I also like to find ingredients that I am familiar being prepared in a new and different way. I'll dive into these topics in future columns.

With spring having arrived, I thought it might be a good idea to start off with a full dinner for one of the first holidays - Cinco de Mayo. This holiday is celebrated more in the United States then in Mexico. The holiday has come to symbolize Mexican unity and patriotism.

In order to prepare for this menu, I visited an authentic Mexican grocery store in Chicago - Morelia Supermarket on Diversey Avenue. Right away I knew that I was in the right spot! As I walked up and down the aisles there were many items that were intriguing and fascinating all at the same time!

The first course in our menu is Chicken Tortilla Soup. This is one of my favorite soups; you have the interesting flavor of Epazote, the warm smoky flavors of cumin, chunks of tender chicken and then the crunch of blue tortilla chips. Later this month I'll follow up with the main course, Red Snapper Vera Cruz and Mexican Skillet Rice. So here is my version of Chicken Tortilla Soup. So let's get started!


Chicken Tortilla Soup
By Brad Mercil



2 1/2 lbs boneless chicken cut into bite sized pieces
1 28 oz can of tomatoes with juice, chopped
1 15 oz can of black beans with liquid
3 quarts of chicken stock
2 tblsp canola oil
4 garlic cloves chopped
1 medium onion chopped
3 - 4 tblsp Epazote
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper freshly ground
Juice from 2 limes
1 bunch fresh cilantro, cleaned, removed from stem
1 bag blue tortilla chips


Heat canola in large stock pot, add garlic and sauté until garlic begins to turn golden brown. Add onions and sauté until onions turn translucent. Add chicken and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. You should not see any raw chicken but do not over cook.

Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 1 hour. Remove from heat and allow to cool then refrigerating over night to allow the flavors to marry. Reheat soup the next day and serve with blue tortilla chips by breaking several chips in the bottom of a soup bowl. Ladle soup on top of chips and break a few more chips on top.

Special note: this recipe is a starting point. Adjust the amount of spices, lime juice, cilantro for your taste. Often Epazote is sold dried on the stem. Use a strainer to break up the leaves by pushing the leaves through the strainer. Discard stems and any other woody material. Also, allowing the soup to sit over night helps the soup gain a much greater depth of flavor, but if you can't wait that's alright, just dig in!


If you would like to visit Morelia Supermarket, their address and phone number are listed below. Prices are right and there are lots of great foods to choose from.

Morelia Supermarket
4833 West Diversey Avenue
Chicago, IL 60639
(773) 622-0995