Tortilla Soup. What it says on the box. Is it authentic? No idea, but it is tasty. Makes about 4-6 servings.
- ~2-2.5 lbs chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat (reserve the fat) and cut into bite-size pieces and seasoned (see Flavorings)
- 4 cups of a flavorful liquid (see Flavorings)
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp kosher salt plus more to taste
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- Several cranks of a black pepper mill
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional; to taste)
- ~1 tbsp vegetable oil (or your choice of cooking fat)
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups stock (chicken, vegetable, whatever you got; water would also work in a pinch; this is also the flavorful liquid)
- 1 can corn kernels, drained
- 1 can black beans, drained
- 3 heaping spoonfuls masa harina
- Juice from 3 limes
- 1 tsp Mexican oregano
- Tortilla chips (optional; for garnish)
- Cheese (optional; for garnish)
- Sour cream (optional; for garnish)
Combine chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, 2 tsp salt, black pepper, and, if desired, cayenne pepper in a medium bowl. Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat the chicken thoroughly. Let sit while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Put the chicken fat scraps into a cool, dry dutch oven. Turn the burner on to low-medium heat to render out as much fat as possible. Once the fat scraps are brown remove and discard them. Supplement with vegetable oil as necessary to obtain ~1 1/2 tbsp of fat.
Turn the heat to medium high. Once the oil is shimmering, add in the chicken pieces in a single layer on the bottom of the pan, working in batches if necessary. Cook each batch until the spices are good and toasted, though the chicken will not necessarily be cooked all the way through, ~3 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate when done and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium. Add a bit more oil to the pot if necessary along with the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook until the vegetables have started to soften and the onion starts to turn translucent (~6 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add the tomato paste and cook until fragrant (1-2 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (1-2 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Add the stock to the pot along with the partially-cooked chicken, any juices from the chicken that have accumulated on the plate, and an additional pinch of salt and pepper. Be sure to scrape up all the brown stuff (fond) accumulated on the bottom of the pot. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes.
About 10 minutes before the end of cooking, take a small amount (maybe 1/4 cup) of the liquid in the pot and add it to a small bowl. Add the masa harina to the bowl, stir to combine and remove all the lumps, and set aside. Add the cans of beans and corn to the main pot.
When the chicken has tenderized to your liking, kill the heat. Add the lime juice, oregano, and the reserved masa harina mixture to the pot and stir to combine. Adjust salt and pepper to your taste. Serve in bowls and garnish with cheese, sour cream, and/or tortilla chips.