Creamy Chicken Cheddar Tortilla Soup

Serves 6.

Note: The addition of cream and cheese to this traditionally brothy Mexican soup turns it into a flavor-packed, yet comforting bowl that will have you coming back for seconds. Keep in mind that when processing hot liquids in a blender, you need to be careful. Fill the blender bowl only halfway, loosen the plastic insert in the top to release steam and cover with a towel to prevent splattering. From Meredith Deeds.

• 3 to 4 dried ancho chilies, stems and seeds removed

• 3 tbsp. olive oil

• 4 corn tortillas cut into 1-in. squares

• 1 medium onion, chopped

• 4 garlic cloves, chopped

• 2 tbsp. flour

• 3/4 tsp. salt

• 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, preferably Mexican

• 1 (28 oz.) can whole plum tomatoes, undrained

• 5 c. low-sodium chicken stock or broth

• 3 c. shredded cooked chicken

• 1 c. heavy cream

• 2 c. shredded medium Cheddar cheese, divided

• 1 tbsp. lime juice

• 1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and cubed

• 1/4 c. cilantro leaves

• Crispy Tortilla Strips (see below)

• Lime, cut into 8 wedges


Place a dry large skillet over medium heat. Open up the dried chiles as flat as possible and place them in the skillet. Using a spatula to press down on the chiles, toast the chiles on each side for about 30 seconds or until pliable. Be careful not to burn. Place the toasted chiles in a bowl and soak in hot water until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain and discard soaking liquid and roughly chop the chiles.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the tortilla squares and cook, stirring, until the tortillas turn a golden brown. They may break up a bit in this process, but that's OK. Remove the tortillas and add the onion. Cook for 6 minutes or until the onion is softened. Add the garlic, flour, salt and oregano, and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the chiles, tomatoes, broth and browned tortilla squares to the pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Use an upright blender or immersion blender to process the soup until smooth.

Return the soup to the pot and add the chicken and cream. Bring back to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat and add 1 1/2 cups cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted. Add the lime juice. Taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary.

Divide the soup serving bowls and garnish with remaining cheese, avocado, cilantro and crispy tortilla strips. Serve with lime wedges on the side.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories720Fat48 gSodium1,110 mg

Carbohydrates39 gSaturated fat19 gTotal sugars9 g

Protein39 gCholesterol145 mgDietary fiber9 g

Exchanges per serving: 2½ starch, 4½ medium-fat protein, 4½ fat.

Crispy Tortilla Strips

Serves 6.

Note: From Meredith Deeds.

• Vegetable oil (for frying)

• 6 corn tortillas, cut in half, then cut crosswise into matchstick-sized strips

• Salt


Pour enough vegetable oil into medium saucepan to reach depth of 3/4 inch. Heat oil over medium heat to 350 degrees.

Add about a quarter of the tortilla strips to the hot oil and cook until crisp and light golden, about 30 to 45 seconds.

Using tongs or slotted spoon, transfer tortilla strips to paper towels to drain. Immediately season with salt. Repeat with remaining tortilla strips in 3 batches. Cool.