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 the goods


(optional, you can substitute 2 quarts of store bought low-sodium chicken stock)

1 chicken

leafy tops off some celery stalks

cilantro roots torn from a bunch of cilantro*

4 baby carrots

1 tspn peppercorns

2 tspn kosher salt

1 large onion, top and tailed and peeled.

3 cloves garlic

filtered water


1-2 red bell peppers

2 large, ripe tomatoes

2-3 tomatilloes (optional)

2 jalapeno chili peppers

1 large onion

3 cloves garlic

1 tspn ground achiote (or paprika)

1 tspn cayenne pepper

1 tspn ground pasilla chili (optional)

1 lb / 450g baby carrots, peeled and diced

3 cups cooked chicken flesh

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

fresh mint and cilantro


2-3 fresh limes

fresh, hand made corn tortillas

optional garnishes:

jalapeno chili, diced

ripe avocado, diced

cotija cheese, grated

fresh cilantro, chopped


*cilantro roots are full of flavour for soups, stocks and stews. If you can find a grocer who doesn't lop them off, then buy your cilantro there. Any unused roots can be washed and frozen until needed.

active time: 60 minutes

total time: 2 days (if making stock)

you will need:

  • large stock pot
  • skillet


tortilla soup

You can use store bought stock for this, but I like to make my own as that also gives me the cooked chicken for the soup. Make it a day ahead so that you can skim the schmaltz off the top.

Put everything into a large stock pot, fill with filtered water and bring to a steady simmer. Skim off any scum and let simmer gently for about 3 hours.

Pour the stock through strainer into a large bowl or container.

Discard the vegetables, Reserve the chicken.

Cool and chill the stock and chicken overnight.

Remove the fat from the top of the stock and keep it aside.

Remove the skin from the chicken and discard, tear the meat from the bones and discard the carcass.

The Soup:

Light all the burners on your gas stove and place the bell peppers over one flame, the tomatoes over another, the tomatilloes over another and the jalapeno chillies over another.

Char the vegetables by turning them over the flame, the tomatoes and tomatilloes have thinner skins and might burst and dribble a bit. Remove them first.

Place the peppers straight from the heat into a bowl, cover with cling film. This will make them easier to peel.

Remove the stems from the tomatoes, tomatilloes and jalapenos and chop them up, peel the skins from the bell peppers. Discard the seeds and tops of the peppers. Chop the flesh.

Peel and dice the onion, garlic cloves and carrots.

Place everything into a large pot and add the stock, spices and seasoning.  Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer until carrots are tender.

Add the drained beans.  Simmer another 15 minutes.

Chop the chicken flesh into cubes and add just 5 minutes before serving so that it doesn't disintegrate.

Melt 2 tblspns of reserved chicken schmaltz (or use olive oil) and use this to coat about 6 corn tortillas. (I pop everything into a ziploc bag and give them a good toss)

Fry the tortillas for a couple of minutes each side until almost crispy.

Slice the tortillas into strips about 1/2 inch wide.

Place a few tortilla strips in the bottom of each bowl, ladle the hot soup over them and then add a few more tortilla strips on top.

Squeeze about 1/2 fresh lime into each bowl and garnish with cilantro, chilies, avocado, cheese or even some sour cream