Where’s The Tortilla in Tortilla Soup?

When I was in art school I had a great job for a while, working at Denver Art Supply.  Not only did I get a discount on all my art supplies for school, I learned all sorts of fun things and I had the pleasure of working with a great group of people.  One of the people I looked up to was a girl named Jennifer, who although only in her mid-20’s, was a wife and mother and artist and knew all sorts of interesting things.  One of the things she taught me was how to make tortilla soup, which to this day, although I’ve played with it a little bit, is still very similar to that original recipe.

Of course one of the great mysteries (to me) about tortilla soup is that there are not any tortillas in it.  I’ve come up with some answers to this, mostly just because I like answers to questions.  One is that there USED to be tortillas and the recipe has somehow evolved to not need them anymore, perhaps because someone discovered it’s just better to crunch up chips in at the end instead.  Or maybe it’s because it’s really great when you eat it WITH tortillas, scooping some of the soup up with a torn off bit and making a total mess of yourself in the process.  Either way, it’s delicious!

Chicken Tortilla Soup. Not a tortilla in sight, but it’s still awesome!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1/2 pound chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups beef broth
1 cup tomato juice
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1 can black beans, drained
2/3 cup uncooked rice
1-2 tsp. cumin
1-2 tsp. chili powder
Salt & pepper

Saute onions, garlic & jalapeño in a little canola oil for a couple of minutes.  Add chicken and continue to cook until onions are soft and chicken is no longer pink.  Add broth, tomato juice and worcestershire.  Bring to a boil and then turn down to medium and cook for 10 minutes or so.  Add beans, rice and seasonings.  Stir to combine and cook for another 15-20 minutes, until rice is done.  Top with a squeeze of lime, avocado, cheese, sour cream or tortilla chips (or all of the above)!

The leftovers freeze great, so I highly recommend making a double batch!

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