Sopa de tortilla, or tortilla soup, is an excellent go-to meal for the fall and winter, but can easily get out of balance if you overdo one of the ingredients.
Too many tomatoes and it starts tasting like tomato soup. Too many chiles and it tastes like chili. The key is to strike a subtle balance between all of the ingredients.
Tips for Making the Best Sopa de Tortilla
One: Get quality pasilla chiles. Your chiles should not be dry and brittle. That’s an indication of old and flavorless chiles. They should be somewhat soft and pliable.
Two: In this recipe, you de-stem, de-seed, and de-vein the chiles, then lightly fry them in hot oil. Frying them adds more complexity and a toasty nuttiness to the flavor of the chile. Just don’t burn them. That’ll make them bitter. You can get away with not frying them, but I don’t recommend it.
Three: It can be difficult and messy to try to crumble the chiles by hand. I use a large knife and chop them on a plastic cutting board. Chop them up relatively small, so they break down better in the soup.
Four: As to the heat level in the soup, you can control that with the jalapenos. The seeds, and especially the white veins inside the jalapenos, hold all of the capsaicin (the heat-producing compound). Leave them in if you want some spice, and take it out of you don’t.
Five: Finally, making your own tortilla chips is optional. I prefer to make my own because I like the texture of the baked tortillas. You can make your life easier by just using store-bought tortilla chips.
Sopa de tortilla goes nicely with cubed avocados, Oaxaca cheese (substitute Monterrey Jack if you can’t find it. Cheddar is too overpowering), fresh chopped cilantro, and/or diced white onions.
Sopa de Tortilla – Tortilla Soup
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil - plus more for brushing tortillas
- 3 dried pasilla chiles - stemmed, de-veined, and de-seeded
- 1 large white onion - chopped
- 2 jalapenos - stemmed, seeded, and diced small
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 lb. roma tomatoes - cored and seeded, diced small
- 1/2 cup cilantro - chopped, plus more for garnish (optional)
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 14 oz. can black beans - drained
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs - cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 8 corn tortillas - brushed with oil, then cut into strips, or substitute store-bought tortilla chips
- 12 oz. Oaxaca cheese - shredded, or substitute Monterrey jack (optional)
- 1 large avocado - cut into 1/2-inch cubes (optional)
- 2 tbsp. cilantro - chopped (optional)
- Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat, fry pasilla chiles lightly on each side, then remove and crumble into very small pieces. Set aside.Add onion, jalapeno, and a pinch of salt. Saute until onions are translucent and beginning to brown slightly. About 10 minutes.
- Add garlic and cumin. Saute for an additional minute.
- Add chicken stock, tomatoes, cilantro, 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, and crumbled pasilla chiles. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for an additional 15 minutes.
- Add drained black beans and cubed chicken and simmer an additional 5 minutes, or until the chicken pieces are cooked through.
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Brush both sides of the tortillas with vegetable oil, then cut them into thin strips. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Remove and sprinkle lightly with Kosher salt.
- Serve each portion topped with baked tortilla strips, shredded cheese, cubed avocados, and chopped cilantro.