Chicken Tortilla Soup - Restaurant Style

I developed this recipe over the last few years tweaking it here and there, but I think I have arrived - well at least I'll park here for a while;-)  Several years ago I had a bowl of chicken tortilla soup at a restaurant that was so good I was inspired to try to figure out how to make it.  The result is a favorite that I return to again and again.  My version is a bit healthier than a typical restaurant since I bake my tortilla strips.   Anyone following the South Beach Diet will recognize this would be a good phase two meal. Now, when it comes to the Southwest Seasoning Blend I have used anything from Pampered Chef's Southwest Seasoning to the Spicy Taco Seasoning from Gordon Food Service.  I have also made my own blend using pinches of chili powder, cumin, garlic, oregano and cilantro (in order from greatest amount to least) until I have about 1 Tablespoon.  Finally, when it comes to the shredded cheese I have used several different kinds (whatever I have that goes well with mexican food) and it still turns out terrific.  I have served this in hearty portions for dinner, and for an extra hungry crowd you can serve with quesadillas.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup - Restaurant Style

2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
2 uncooked chicken breasts, cut into small bit sized pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 garlic cloves
2 (4 oz) cans of mild fire-roasted green chilies
1 (30 ounce) can refried beans
30 ounces of chicken broth
1 tablespoon of Southwest Seasoning
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (use reduced fat if you are following South Beach)
2 low-carb tortillas
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 tablespoons low-fat sour cream (optional)
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, divided (optional)
Cilantro leaf

1) Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and cook diced chicken pieces for 5 minutes, stirring often so they don't get brown - remove chicken and set aside.

2) Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in the same large soup pot over medium heat and add onion, cook for 1 minute stirring often.

3) Press 2 cloves of garlic into the pot over the onions and cook for another minute. Continue stirring so the onions and garlic do not brown.

4) Add the two cans of green chilies and cook for another minute.

5) Add the cooked chicken, refried beans and broth (I buy broth by the carton and measure the broth by filling the empty refried bean can). Blend this mixture well.

6) Add 1 Tablespoon of southwest seasoning and 1/2 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or your favorite). Simmer soup on medium low heat until heated through.  At this point the soup can be eaten, but if you simmer on low heat for another 15 - 30 minutes it will give the seasoning a chance to blend well.

7) While the soup is simmering preheat oven to 350 degrees and cut the tortillas into very thin strips using a pizza cutter. When we are watching our carb intake I use 1/2 tortilla per person.

8) Place tortilla strips, 2 teaspoons of olive oil and 4 pinches of salt in a ziplock bag and shake well.

9) Spread into 1 layer on cookie sheet sprayed with oil. Make the strips in shapes rather than all of them be completely flat and bake for 5 - 7 minutes.  (I have also toasted these in a large frying pan if you prefer that method).

10) This recipe makes four hearty 2 1/2 cup portions - Ladle soup into bowls, garnish each bowl with tortilla strips, 1/8 cup of shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream and a few cilantro leaves. (Serving Idea:  I have also served this soup with cheese quesadillas). 


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