6 chicken breasts w/ skin
A good spice mix containing chile powder, garlic powder, cumin, onion powder, cilantro
(I used Mourad’s Moroccan Meatball & Hamburger Seasoning Blend) , enough
to season chicken breasts plus 1 tbsp. for soup (you can also mix your own using a tbsp. of each spice)
4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
4-6 celery ribs, cut in two and chopped
1 medium zucchini, seeded, peeled or unpeeled, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 10 oz. can Rotel Original tomatoes w/ green chile
1 cup green chile, roasted and chopped (fresh, frozen or canned)
1 carrot, grated (I used a course microplane grater)
2 32 oz. containers reduced sodium organic chicken broth
1 14 3/4 oz. can creamed corn
1/2 packet McCormick Fajita Seasoning
3 tbsp. Jiffy Corn Muffin mix, mixed in 3 tbsp. hot water
1/2 cup instant white or brown rice
2 large or 4 small russet potatoes, peeled and chopped small
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Flour tortillas, grilled and buttered
Optional Toppings: Avocado, grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream
Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash the chicken breasts and pat dry. Place in roasting pan and drizzle each with olive oil. Season well on both sides using spice mix. Bake uncovered for about 1 hour, 25 minutes or until no longer pink, but still moist.
While the chicken is baking, start the soup. Wash and dry all veggies and chop or mince as directed, keeping garlic separated from the rest.
Place 2 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter in large soup pot and heat on medium. Add chopped onion, green and red peppers, zucchini, and celery, and sauté, stirring often, until onion is translucent. Make a well in the middle of veggies, add minced garlic, let cook for 30 seconds, then stir into the veggies. Stir in the Rotel tomatoes and the cup of green chile. Turn heat to low and let cook for a minute or two. Stir in chicken broth. Return heat to medium, bringing to a boil, then stir in the grated carrot, seasonings (fajita seasoning and 1 tbsp. spice mix), creamed corn, rice, and potatoes. Mix the corn muffin mix w/ the hot water and stir into the soup pot. Let soup cook at a low boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then turn down to simmer.
When chicken is done, remove from oven and let sit until cool enough to handle.
Pour the drippings into a glass measure or fat separator. Deglaze the pan w/ a little water, too, scraping the pan w/ a wooden spoon. Pour all of the flavorful juices into the soup pot. Remove chicken from bones, discarding skin and bones. (At this point, you will have a hard time not feasting on the crisp, flavorful skin. A couple of bites won’t hurt, in fact, take a bite of the chicken, too – yum.) Chop and shred the chicken. Add to the soup pot.
Simmer soup for an hour or so, stirring occasionally. The potatoes will break down, thickening the soup.
To serve, crush a handful of tortilla chips into soup bowl and add the soup. The tortilla chips will soften in the hot soup. Stir and top with your choice of toppings (I love the avocado in this soup).
Serve with grilled and buttered flour tortillas.
After reading many, many recipes for Chicken Tortilla Soup, I settled on using the ingredients I liked from different recipes, adding my own ideas to make this final version. The added corn muffin mix idea came from Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman), a great idea (thanks!), although she suggests using cornmeal. I added the rice and the potatoes to thicken the soup and make it hearty. You can also just boil the chicken for this soup, but seasoning it and baking in the oven first gives the chicken so much flavor, I will always opt for going the extra mile.