This soup is brought to you today by a sleepless me who thought she might have figured out a way to make grain-free, crispy “tortilla” strips. Who needs sleep when you can think about crispy strips of tortilla-ness? Right?
Well, at least that is what my body seems to think. Sleep is totally unnecessary. I beg to differ, but the off and on insomnia I have experienced for years is currently more like on-on-on-on-on-on-on-on. If there is a tip out there for sleeping better I have tried it, and right now I am even working with my doctor on, for lack of a better term, sleep training. There are several aspects but she assured me that while in the short term it will probably make me MORE tired (just what I want) in the long term it should help.
I hope so, because I am going crazy. Not sleeping makes everything a struggle. Except for coming up with crazy tortilla soup ideas. Notice this soup is not called “Grain (or corn) Free Tortilla Soup”? Yeah…
Sleepless me thought of a few ways I could do them. The first was plantains. I got half way through peeling it before chunks came off with the skin and I had to throw it away in frustration. It was kinda beat up looking, and I think that was why I couldn’t peel it.
Then came the sweet potatoes, my second idea. I carefully sliced on a mandolin lengthwise using tongs to push it through due to mortal fear of cutting my hands on mandolins. Through every tedious, but perfectly even, slice I dreamed of crispiness. Then came cutting the sheets of sweet potato into strips.
Next frying. Readjust the oil. Fry. Readjust the oil. Fry. Nearly burn them to get them crispy. CRISPY! And, disgusting. Readjust. Coat with arrowroot. Tahdah! Oh wait. Not crispy…
Do you see the little pathetic pile of un-tortilla strips up there? That is when I gave up. They were what sweet potato fry nightmares are made of.
Apparently you can’t make tortilla strips out of sweet potato strips. Crazy right? I guess the moral of this story is don’t trust the mindless musings of a sleepless brain. Or at least don’t act on them on no sleep.
But not all was lost. Pretend tortilla strips for TORTILLA SOUP wouldn’t be much without a soup, right? While disaster ensued on one side of my stove, a delicious soup was being made on the other.
In between stubbornly wrestling with sweet potatoes, I was searing chicken, poaching it in homemade chicken stock, cutting vegetables, measuring spices, etc. etc. It was so delicious, but needed just a bit of something more since the tortilla-less strips were function-less.
What is the next logical thing when sweet potatoes don’t work? Spinach of course. Because those are about as similar as you can get.
No sweet potatoes. Yes spinach. My dearest husband in the whole wide world ran to the store to get me some as I blubbered over silly, floppy sweet potato strips.
After a short search to remove large stems in they went, and a few stirs later wilted down into the soup adding just what it needed. It was one of the best soups I have ever had. Which is saying a lot. I love my soups. My family was not as impressed but that is because they are all soup nay-sayers. I’ve wondered if this makes them crazy, but since THEY have mastered the art of sleeping at bedtime I don’t have much room to talk.
Anyway, if you are a soup lover like me then I am sure you will enjoy this Mexican Chicken and Vegetable soup, because the flavors are deep and weird pretend tortilla strips are absent.
I use affiliate links for brands I use and recommend in the recipe below.
- 4 chicken leg quarters
- 8 cups low sodium, or salt-free homemade chicken stock (make sure it is gluten free)
- 1 vidalia onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons cumin
- 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (I use the frontier brand as it is the tastiest I have found)
- ½+ teaspoon chipotle or cayenne
- 3 green peppers, chopped
- 1 can green chilies, drained
- 2 ~28 oz cans/boxes diced tomatoes (I like to use Pomi as the flavor is freshest)
- 5 oz clamshell baby spinach
- Juice of 2 limes
- For serving
- Lime Wedges
- Avocado Slices
- The first thing you want to do is sear the chicken to get some good color into the broth, and deeper flavor. Heat a large pot over medium heat for a few minutes. If you drip a few drops of water in it and hear a quick sizzle-zap of it evaporating it is ready. Put two of the leg quarters in the pan, skin side down. Press down to get as much skin in contact with the pan as possible. I cooked for about 5-6 minutes. Flip and brown on the other side for another 3-4 minutes. Set the first two aside and repeat with the second set. You don't need to stand over the pot but do check them occasionally while cooking.
- Pour the oil out into a small container to save for cooking the vegetables later.
- Once both sets of chicken are brown add them back to the pan with the broth or stock. If using homemade, unsalted broth then add two teaspoons of salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower to a slight simmer. Cook for about 40-45 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and tender. Strain the stock and set the chicken aside to cool until ready to handle.
- In the now empty pot add the onions, a pinch of salt, garlic, and spices as well as the reserved chicken fat. Cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes while frequently stirring. If you hear sizzling turn the pan down, you don't want to burn the garlic and spices. Add the pepper, turn the heat up to medium and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the strained broth back in, the cans/boxes of diced tomatoes with juices. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes until everything is soft.
- While the soup is cooking take the skin of the chicken and discard (not much use for it now). Pull the meat off the bone and shred. Also prepare the spinach by washing then going through and removing any large stems. I left the spinach whole, but you can chop if smaller pieces are desired. Add the chicken into the pot and stir it in. Next add the spinach and stir until it wilts into the soup (a minute or two).
- Add the lime juice and add more salt to taste (depends on the broth/stock used, how salted the tomatoes were ect.) I think I added an additional teaspoon at this time.
- Serve the soup with avocado slices, cilantro, and an additional squeeze of lime if desired.
Savoring Saturdays @ Raia’s Recipes