Mexican food and spices have slowly but surely made their way into my cooking routing. It is the use of fragrant herbs that exude a smoky aroma along with subtle yet flavorful spices that makes each Mexican dish a treat to cook and eat. Unknown to many, who mostly associate Mexican food with tacos and burritos, it is third on the list of the most varied cuisines of the world, after China and India. In fact, in villages across Mexico, rattlesnakes and iguanas are considered quite a delicacy (just an interesting fact about Mexican food, not to kill your appetite in any way). Beans are a staple ingredient in Mexican cooking, made famous by Mexican Chili and Bean Burritos. But for me, no Mexican dish is complete without the inclusion of this staple ingredient.
Leftover rotisserie chicken and tortilla chips in my larder inspired me to expand my knowledge about worldly cuisines across the Atlantic Ocean to Mexico. Having tried it at many restaurants, I set out to create my own version of Chicken Tortilla Soup; one that was heavy on Mexican spices and ingredients. During my research, I realized most people included avocados instead of beans, but that did not excite my palate. In order to make a hearty bowl of soup, beans were a must. In the end, it was the beans that helped the soup turn into a satiating meal rather than a simple appetizer.
- 5 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups shredded chicken, cooked
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 can red kidney beans
- 1/2 can chickpeas
- 2 tsp chipotle pepper (or taco seasoning)
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- Juice of 2 limes
- Handful cilantro
- 5-6 dried red chillies, chopped
- Tortilla chips
- Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (optional)
- Heat olive oil in a deep saucepan and add the onions. Cook for about 3-4 minutes till translucent and soft. Make sure not to brown them
- Add the spices, garlic paste and 1 tbsp of the chicken stock. Cook thoroughly till fragrant and the stock has dried up, about 2-3 minutes. Make sure the onions are completely coated with the spices.
- Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. (If you are using uncooked chicken, add the thinly sliced strips of chicken at this stage so it boils with the stock)
- Once the stock starts to boil, add the kidney beans and chickpeas. Lower the heat, cover the soup with a lid and simmer for about 5 minutes
- Squeeze in the juice from the limes and give it a final stir
- Transfer into serving bowls and garnish with the tortilla chips, cilantro and dried red chillies. Add the shredded cheese if desired
- Serve hot
As the tortilla chips melt in the soup, the flavors are enhanced even more, hence it is always advisable to use plain chips. It helps to balance the flavors and provides uniformity to the dish rather than confusing it. The spicy aroma as you lift the lid after simmering the soup is sure to open up your senses. It is the kind of soup that children would enjoy due to the presence of the tortilla chips and adults for its strong yet subtle flavors. Comfort food from Mexico; a new avenue, a new recipe and most importantly, a new cuisine in my world of cooking.