Tortilla Soup w/ Shredded Chicken and Shrimp (plus a vegetarian/Pescetarian option)

This past weekend I was craving tortilla soup– the kind I found in Chicago at Rick Bayless's Topo/Frontera Grill. It was a lick-the-bowl-clean kind of soup. And I missed it like crazy.  After making a roasted chicken and using the "leftovers" to make a homemade stock (recipe included right here), I looked for Bayless's recipe online and I found it. But there was just one little problem: besides the chicken and a few of the spices...I didn't have, nor could I find the ingredients. They don't sell his roasted tomato Frontera salsa here in France. So I did what I always do (now)- I made do with what I had. And, in the end, I made up my own recipe for a lick-the-bowl-clean tortilla soup. (This is a theme in my next memoir, HOW TO MAKE A FRENCH FAMILY, but this recipe is not included in the book.) Anyway, I wanted to share my tortilla soup with you. Hey, it's fall and there is nothing like a good soup to warm us up on those chilly days and nights. For my friends in Oz, this soup is also good in the summer. Ya know– to cool down–they say it's good to raise your body temp.
Serve with a nice Mexican beer, tortilla chips, and a homemade (not store bought!!!) guacamole, mango salsa, or regular salsa.

La Recette for "Sam's Lick-the-Bowl Clean-Tortilla Soup"
Serves Four-Six
Cook Time- 40 minutes (unless you are making a homemade stock and using it the day of prep...)

3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1 red pepper, de-seeded and quartered
1 yellow pepper, de-seeded and quartered
1 green pepper, de-seeded and quartered
5 tomatoes, quartered
1 large head garlic, divided into cloves 
Fleur de Sel or Kosher Salt
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
5 cups chicken stock, homemade preferred*
4-5 limes
1 (10-14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
12-16 pre-cooked, peeled shrimp, tails discarded
Vegetable oil
2 corn or flour tortillas, sliced two inches long, 1/4 inch thick
2-3 avocados, diced
1/4 cup Italian parsley or cilantro, finely diced, for garnish

Crème fraîche or sour cream (optional), for garnish
Grated cheese, such as Monterey Jack (optional) for garnish
1 red onion, diced (optional) for garnish
Green chili peppers (optional), for garnish

Spices, to taste
Cumin (I used a teaspoon)
Paprika, about a tablespoon
Chili Powder, about 1/2 tablespoon

The How To:
Pre-heat oven to 400°F. In a medium sized pot, bring lightly salted water to a boil. Drop chicken in to poach. Cook for about 8-10 minutes. Drain. Then, let the chicken cool. Once cool, shred the chicken breasts with your fingers, pulling it apart into little, bite-sized strips. Meanwhile, place the peppers, tomatoes, and garlic on an aluminum lined baking tray. Lightly cover with Fleur de Sel or Kosher salt. Then, drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Let cool. 

In a large pot, heat up your chicken or vegetable stock to a boil. Add in the shredded chicken and the can of diced tomatoes. Set heat to a simmer. By now your roasted vegetables should be cool enough to handle. Chop them up-- remembering to remove (and discarding) the skin off the garlic cloves!!! Finely mince the garlic. Place all of the roasted goodness in the chicken/tomato stock. Now, spice accordingly, tasting as you go– add in the cumin, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper to your tastes. You want a fresh, smokey flavor. Let the ingredients simmer for a 1/2 hour. Add the juice of one lime to the broth. Seven minutes before serving add in the shrimp. 

In a medium sized pot, heat up 1-1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil. Once hot, batch by batch, deep fry your tortilla slices until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set them aside (allowing the oil to drain) on a paper towel. 

To Serve (see photo):
Ladle the soup into a bowl. Garnish with 1/2 an avocado (diced), a handful of  deep-fried tortilla strips, the cilantro or parsley, and because I love lime, a wedge of half a lime. Miam-Miam! Serve optional ingredients in small bowls to spice up the soup at whim.

Colours of the world
Spice up your life
Every boy and every girl
Spice up your life
People of the world
Spice up your life

La la la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la la

La la la la la la la 

*For the broth- homemade chicken or veggie stock is preferred, but, for you quick on the run people, canned or bouillon cubes will do. We need five cups of stock, people. When I roast a chicken (or buy it from the rotissierie), I throw the bones into a pot and cover them with water. Then, I add 2 carrots, peeled or not peeled (your preference) and sliced; 5 stalks of celery, sliced (leaves included), and one red onion, peeled and quartered. I add spices- a little salt and lots of pepper (about 20 twists). I may add a bit of Chef Paul Prudhomme's seasoning salt. A wedge of ginger? Yes, Marianne. About 2 inches in length, peeled. Crushed garlic? Depends on my mood. And I'm always in the mood for garlic. About two cloves worth, maybe three. If I have lemon grass, I'll add that in too. I simmer the concoction for an hour, then taste. More salt? Maybe? Garlic salt? Maybe. It's up to you. Sometimes I add mushrooms and tomatoes to the stock– or whatever leftover veggies need to be used up. Simmer for two-three hours and then drain the stock into a large bowl using a strainer. Throw away everything (the bones and veggies)- except the stock. Let cool, then skim off the fat, if needed. I divide the stock up into tupperware bowls (4-5 cups each), then freeze to use when I ever I'm craving homemade lick-my-bowl-clean soup.

How to cheat a "homemade" stock. Use bouillon cubes or canned stock, and then add veggies and spices. Simmer for an hour or so. Drain the stock into a large bowl with a strainer. Discard the veggies, keep the stock.

For Vegetarians/Pescetarians:
Substitute chicken stock with vegetable stock. Maybe add in some grilled corn (cut to three inches long) and a 1/4 cup of steamed rice per serving (serve the soup over the pre-cooked rice). **Pescetarians- double the shrimp count.

Per my usual methods of madness, comments are closed on the blog. (Once I post, I rarely come back to stock, I mean stalk myself...) BUT I do connect with people on my Facebook page. So, head on over there! Errr... here! And feel free to share this post with your soup loving friends! It's always appreciated! Miam-miam.

Gros bisous from France,


La la la la la la la la la

La la la la la la la

La la la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la 

(Great. Now that song is stuck in my head. You're welcome? La la la la la. Ooh-la-la).

How to Make a French Family–
 coming at you in April 2017!
Add it to your Goodreads!

p.s. This blog will be going through a transformation. Soon. Cheers. And Bon App!


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