Food I’ve Eaten: Chicken Tortilla Soup (GF, Paleo)


It’s winter, it’s cold, it’s the start of a new year. It’s soup-time.

This soup is a winner. I made it for myself and my roommate, and we both went back for seconds (with plenty of leftovers for the next day). Hearty, filling, and not too unhealthy – just the way to kick off a brand new year.

[An aside: I’m Korean – I don’t measure when I cook. Annoying, I know. I’ll pay more attention the next time I cook something, but for this recipe, the measurements are all estimates.]

Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Chicken Tortilla Soup

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (original recipe called for 2)
2 T olive oil, separated
1.5 t cumin
1.5 t chili powder (I like spicy, but this could be adjusted down)
½ t onion powder
½ t salt (3 twists of the grinder)
½ t pepper (3 twists of the grinder)
¼ t paprika
¼ t ginger powder
½ large yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can (15 oz) diced tomatoes and chiles
32 oz low-sodium chicken stock
3 T tomato paste (I got an 8 oz can and used two big spoonfuls)
3 T corn meal

For garnish
Tortilla strips
Cheese (if desired)
Sour cream (if desired)
Fresh onions (if desired)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix spices. Place chicken in an oven-safe pan, and drizzle chicken with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle a small amount of spice mix over the chicken (I used about two pinches per breast). Set aside the rest of the spice mix. Bake chicken for 20 minutes, or until chicken is done.
  2. Once the chicken is in the oven, get to dicing the onion and bell peppers. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot, over medium heat. Add diced veggies and stir. Once the veggies have cooked for about a minute, add all but 1 teaspoon of the spice mix. Stir to combine and let the veggies cook until onions are fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  3. Pour in beans, diced tomatoes, and chicken stock. Add the tomato paste, and give everything a good stir.
  4. In a bowl, combine cornmeal with a small amount of water – just enough to fully cover the meal – and let it soak.
  5. By this time, the chicken should be done. Remove from oven, shred with two forks, and add to the soup. Add the cornmeal mix, give the soup another good stir, and bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and let it simmer uncovered. At this point, the original recipe says to leave the soup simmering for 45 minutes. I was getting hungry, though, so I skipped that part and let it simmer while I did the dishes, about 10 minutes.
  6. Taste test! I ended up adding a half-can of water, which is why I suggest reserving 1 teaspoon of the spice mix. If it’s not kicky enough, you can always add it later.
  7. After the dishes are clean, prep the garnishes. I just used avocado and stale tortilla chips, so I sliced an avocado in half, pulled out the pit (I used a knife, but I do NOT recommend this method. Use a spoon!), carefully scooped out each half with a spoon, and cut the avocado into small chunks. The soup probably simmered for another 5 minutes while I cut up the avocado and got out our bowls.
  8. At this point, I was too hungry to let the soup cook any longer. I ladled out two large bowlfuls, topped each with avocado chunks and tortilla chips, and dug in. I did let the soup simmer longer while we ate our first bowls, about another 30 minutes. If you can, let it simmer about 40 minutes before eating. But even without the extra cook time, it was still really freaking good.


  1. If you boil the chicken instead of baking it, you have your own chicken stock. Instead of cooking the veggies over heat, remove the chicken once it’s cooked and cook the veggies in the stock. Shred the cooked chicken and add it at the same time as the beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste.
  2. Any vegetarians in the house? I’m sure this would be delicious with veggie broth. You could substitute tofu for the chicken – or leave it out altogether and add more veggies. Cabbage, celery, corn – I bet these would all work really well.
  3. If you don’t add cheese or sour cream, this is also dairy free. My roommate squeezed lemon over her bowl – smelled yummy.

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