Tortilla Soup

A La Kocinera Original Recipe

2 tablespoons canola oil or vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 jalapeño, seeds included, finely chopped

1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 zucchini, cut into bite-size pieces

1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 16-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups water

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Handful fresh cilantro, chopped

First, cook the chicken breasts. My favorite way to prepare them is baking—first, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat the chicken breasts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Place them in a baking pan and bake for 45-50 minutes. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for 10-15 minutes, and then shred the meat either with your hands or two forks. Set the shredded chicken aside to add to the soup later.

Heat the canola or vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once heated, add the chopped onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Cook this mixture for about 5 minutes, until softened, stirring frequently. Then add the cumin and chili powder, letting it cook for another minute, stirring frequently.

Add the crushed tomatoes, pinto beans, shredded chicken, chicken broth, water, dark brown sugar, and kosher salt to the onion mixture, stirring to combine. Add freshly-ground black pepper, to taste. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and let the soup simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the zucchini are tender.

Serve warm with fresh cilantro, plus sour cream, tortilla strips, and avocado.