The City Magazine Since 1975

Tortilla Soup

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• 2 Tbs. whole coriander seeds
• 1 Tbs. whole cumin seeds
• 3 Tbs. peanut or vegetable oil
• Chili mixture (recipe follows)
• Tomato mixture (recipe follows)
• 1 bunch cilantro, stems removed and discarded, leaves lightly chopped
• 1 cup crushed (to small pieces) unsalted fried tortilla chips
• 1 ½ qts. homemade or store-bought chicken broth (To make your own, poach chicken thighs in water. Reserve broth, as well as meat, if desired.)
• 1/8 cup fresh lime juice
• Salt, to taste
• Grilled or poached chicken (reserved from homemade broth), shredded or sliced into small- to medium-sized pieces, optional
• Sour cream, tortilla chips, and/or grated queso quesadilla, for garnish

For chili mixture:
• 2 dried ancho chilis
• 2 dried pasilla chilis
• 2 dried guajillo chilis
• 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
• 6 cloves garlic, peeled
• 2 poblano chilis, seeds and stems removed, roughly chopped
• 2 Anaheim chilis, lightly toasted, seeds and stems removed, roughly chopped
• 2 Tbs. chicken stock

For tomato mixture:
• 1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes
• 10 fresh roma tomatoes, halved and seeded


Toast coriander and cumin seeds in sauté pan over medium-high heat until fragrant, about two to three minutes. Grind in a spice grinder and set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat oil over high heat.

Add chili mixture to hot oil. Mixture will boil vigorously. Whisk for two to three minutes to ensure that pot does not scorch and mixture does not stick to bottom.

Add ground coriander and cumin, tomato mixture, cilantro, chips, chicken broth, lime juice, and salt. Simmer over low heat for 45 minutes to one hour.

If you are using poached or grilled chicken, add meat to soup and simmer for five more minutes to reheat.

Garnish each serving with sour cream, tortilla chips, and/or grated queso quesadilla.

For chili mixture:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place dried chilis on a sheet tray in oven and toast for two to three minutes or until aromatic. Remove from oven and, when cool enough to touch, use a knife to remove stems and seeds from each. In a pot, boil enough water to cover dried chilis, pour into a bowl, and add dried chilis, allowing them to steep for five minutes. Drain and place chilis in food processor or blender. Add last five ingredients and purée to a paste. Scrape into a bowl and set aside.

For tomato mixture:
Purée canned and fresh tomatoes together in food processor or blender. Pour into a bowl and set aside.