Chief Milkmaid | Not your momma’s chicken noodle soup

Posted in Blogs, Culinary

Jan. 24, 2013


‘Tis the season. No, I don’t mean Christmas or even New Year’s; I’m talking about the winter cold and flu season.

I have two thoughts that can help.

1)      If you’re sick… STAY HOME!

2)     Chicken noodle soup… or maybe, if you’re ready for something with a bit more flavor, try this Chicken Tortilla Soup (it’s excellent for those that aren’t sick too!).

I love chicken noodle soup, and honestly was never that fond of tortilla soup. Living in San Diego for 20 years, I had ample opportunity to consume all varieties of delicious Mexican food. I tried and tried, but never found the tortilla soup to tantalize my taste buds.

Then there was a date night. My husband took me out to San Marcos Brewery for the “best chicken tortilla soup ever.” Still in the blush of new love, I didn’t have the heart to tell him I didn’t care for tortilla soup (or beer). We went and enjoyed the best soup I’ve ever had. It turns out it was more than just the companion I was sharing it with.

We married, moved to Whidbey Island and longed for good Mexican food. Fortunately, I discovered Tres Gringos and now have access to food like I remember from San Diego, including excellent soups… but not “our” chicken tortilla soup.

The last time I visited San Diego, I found the San Marcos Brewery had closed. Luckily, after several failed attempts, we found a way to recreate the experience from so many years ago in Southern California.

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Veggies and cilantro! / Photos by Vicky Brown

We use a slow cooker, and it’s easy!

Chicken Tortilla Soup


1 whole chicken
2 cups white rice
1 large yellow onion
2 tomatoes
2 Hass avocados
1 lime
1 clove garlic
Chili powder (to taste – approx. ¼-½ tsp)
Black pepper (to taste – approx. ¼ tsp)
Tabasco Chipotle sauce (or any other good chipotle sauce or actual chipotle peppers if you’re lucky!)
Tortilla chips (I recommend Juanita’s or make your own)

This recipe is enough for at least 8 servings. I usually freeze half for quick easy meals later.

Start the chicken in your slow cooker with water as high as your cooker permits, add about ¼ of your onion, garlic clove, chili powder, black pepper and a small amount of salt. We don’t add much salt because the tortilla chips add a LOT of salt at the end. If you want the soup without tortilla chips you will need to salt to taste, otherwise make sure your salt level stays somewhere in the vicinity of terribly-bland low.

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The tastes of Southern California.

Cook your chicken for at least two hours on the highest temperature of your slow cooker. Your broth should be nearly boiling (boiling is okay). At this point, take off as much of the broth as you can and reserve it for later. (I put it in a bowl, wait for it to cool and then put it in Ziploc freezer bags and freeze it for future use.) Add enough water to cover your chicken again. Cook for approximately another 2 hours, or until your chicken is falling apart and your broth looks rich and golden again.  Turn the heat off and let it cool a bit so you can separate the chicken from the bones.

While cooling,  now is a good time to start your rice.

At this point I separate the chicken. It’s easier to do it now and it makes storage of leftovers for future soup a breeze.

As the rice finishes up, chop about 1/3 of your bunch of cilantro and cut up about 1/3 of your onion, a tomato, an avocado and a lime. You will use the rest of your fresh veggies for the next serving, so store them well.

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Chop chop! Squeeze.

Once the rice is done, spoon about 1/3 cup into the bottom of each bowl. Add chicken and hot broth to the bowl and then generously add in chopped onion, tomato, cilantro, and avocado. Squeeze in a wedge of lime, splash on some chipotle sauce and crush some tortilla chips on top.

Dinner is served.

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Chicken tortilla soup. Yum.

Vicky Brown, Chief Milkmaid at the Little Brown Farm, puts her passions on the page writing about food, agriculture, and the tender web of community.

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