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The weather is starting to get warmer (thank goodness) which always makes me crave Mexican flavors—think margaritas and guacamole outside on the patio with friends.

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This Chicken Tortilla Soup straddles both seasons. It is warm and satisfying for the still cool early-spring nights while bringing those fresh flavors of a Mexican summer.

ChickenSoup

It’s a simple one-pot supper that can be made in less than an hour and is totally customizable by what toppings you love.

Using a rotisserie chicken from the grocery helps cut down on prep work but not flavor. This soup starts by sautéing peppers, onion and garlic and then adding in cumin, fire roasted tomatoes (adds great smokey flavor) and black beans (protein and fiber). I use homemade chicken stock that I always have on hand in the freezer (recipe here).

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Midway through the simmering process, add in a couple of tablespoons of corn meal. I find it really adds a depth of flavor and a little texture to the soup, also helps thicken it up a bit. Fresh lime juice also does wonders for the flavor of this soup.

I like to grill whole wheat tortillas on my gas stovetop (the smokey flavor of the char is wonderful and it gives the tortillas a little crunch) and slice them into thin strips to throw into the soup just before serving.

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The best part of this soup has to be the toppings. If you are serving this to guests, put out a huge platter of options and let everyone customize their own. I think more is better in this case and love things like lime wedges, grilled tortilla strips, sour cream, avocado slices, lime zest, cheese and even pomegranate arils (because I had them left over from my Lemon Ricotta Pancakes).

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This soup is great any time of the year but is really perfect now that the days are longer and it’s time to get out and enjoy your patio with friends!

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Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup Diced Onion
1/4 cup Diced Green Bell Pepper
1/4 cup Red Bell Pepper
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
2 jalapeños, finely diced
1 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Salt
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 (14.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 Rotisserie Chicken, meat removed and shredded
3 Tablespoons Cornmeal
2 limes, juiced, plus wedges for garnish
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 (8-inch) flour tortilla (I used whole wheat), grilled, cut into thin strips

 
Toppings:
1 avocado, pitted, sliced
1 cup grated queso fresco cheese (for garnish)
lime wedges and zest
grilled tortilla strips, or tortilla chips
1/2 cup light sour cream
pomegranate arils

In a large saucepan heat the vegetable oil. Add onions and peppers and cook for 2 minutes. Once onions and peppers have softened add the garlic, jalepenos, cumin and salt and cook for another minute. Pour chicken broth, water, tomatoes and beans into the pot and bring to a boil. Once at a boil lower heat to simmer and add your shredded chicken. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes. Mix cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Add lime juice and fresh cilantro to the pot and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add flour tortilla strips into soup 5-10 minutes before serving. Ladle soup into serving bowls and top with desired garnishes—a lime wedge, grilled tortilla strips, sour cream, avocado slices, lime zest, cheese and even pomegranate arils.
ChickenSoup2Make these to go with:
The Ultimate Skinny Margarita
Guacamole: The Incredible Avocado 

Homemade Chicken Stock
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