This is my take on one of my favorite soups growing up. I am a big fan of using what you have on hand so feel free to substitute things for what you already have in your kitchen. This is super easy and very versatile! Always a crowd favorite at potlucks.
1 1/2 lbs of Chicken (breast or thighs)
2 qts of chicken or vegetable broth
1-2 tbl of olive oil
1 Onion diced
3-4 cloves of garlic (more or less depending on your tastes)
1 bell pepper (i prefer red but use yellow or orange too) diced
1 can of green chilis
3-4 tomatillos or 1 can chopped
1-2 tbl of chili powder
1 tbl of cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
sea salt and pepper to taste
1/4-1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper (optional)
1 medium can of fire roasted tomatoes (muir glen makes fantastic ones!)
1 large can of pinto beans NOT drained ( you can also use cannelini or black too)
1 – 1 1/2 c of frozen corn (more or less if you want)
fresh corn tortillas sliced into strips
vegetable oil or shortening
cheddar cheese for garnish (optional)
green onions chopped (optional)
To get rich broth, I usually poach my chicken thighs or breasts with bone and skin in the broth. Set aside and shred or chop into bite size pieces.
In a large pot, cook onion, garlic, peppers, chilis, tomatillos, and all spices including salt and pepper for 5-7 minutes until soft. Cooking the spices this way with the oil is a traditional method in Mexican and Indian cooking that is thought to “wake” them up and really does make a difference in taste, well to me at least. When cooked add tomatoes with juice, beans with liquid, corn and broth in small amounts until the desired consistency. My family likes it a little thicker so I only end up using like 1 cup of broth in mine. Freeze any leftover broth. If you like your soup even thicker you can finely chop a few corn tortillas and add it to the soup to thicken. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste it to check for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as desired. In a cast iron or deep pan, heat the shortening or vegetable oil. Slice your tortillas and check a small piece in the oil to see if temperature is ready. Fry in small batches and drain on paper towel. Lightly salt. Add chicken to soup to heat. When ready to serve, top with cheese and crispy tortilla strips and green onions if desired.
I love serving this with my spicy cornbread! Mix corbread as directed and add a small can of corn drained and a cubed block of pepper jack cheese. Bake as usual.