This is Ali's all-time favorite soup, and it's delicious! This was the first dish she cooked for date night. Tortilla soup is fortified with spices and herbs. It is also thickened with tortillas, which is a great technique to know. Techniques for soup thickening vary from roux, to rice, to this technique of using tortillas. Still other soups are thickened with bread or potato, but the tortillas give it a full mouthfeel. It's a great cooking lesson that yields a delicious dish.
In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the onion, carrot and celery in the 2 tablespoons olive oil, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft.
Add the garlic, chile powder, oregano, cumin and black pepper. Stir for 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to burn the dry ingredients. Add more oil if needed.
Add the chicken stock and salt, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for about 5 minutes.
Toast the 2 tortillas over a burner flame until slightly charred. Tear into pieces and place in a blender jar, then ladle in about 1 1/2 cups (355 ml) of the hot soup from the pot. Carefully blend until smooth and return to the soup pot. (See Cook's Note.)
Add the roasted chicken to the soup and let simmer for 5 more minutes.
Just before serving, add the lime juice and cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve topped with lots of chopped avocado, shredded cheese, fried tortilla strips and lime wedges.
If you want to add more spice, 2 to 4 sliced serrano chiles blended with the tortillas will do the trick. When blending hot liquid, first let it cool for five minutes or so, then transfer it to a blender. Put the lid on, leaving one corner open. Cover the lid with a kitchen towel to catch splatters,and pulse until smooth.
Reprinted with permission from "101 Epic Dishes" by Jet Tila and Ali Tila, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. Photo by Ken Goodman.