• Chef Recipes

Spicy Tortilla Soup with Chicken: A Recipe by Juan Pedrosa

Photo Credit: Juan Pedrosa
By Molly McDonough · 04/20/2020

As corporate chef of Lolita’s multiple locations in Boston and beyond (a DC outpost is in the works!), Juan Pedrosa knows his way around the kitchen. Below, Pedrosa draws inspiration from the Mexican restaurant and shares a recipe fit for quarantine cooking. His tortilla soup is made with pantry-friendly ingredients but still has enough heft to serve a crew. (If you’re quarantining solo or in a couple, go ahead and freeze the leftovers—just be sure to thaw fully before reheating.) Serve it with your favorite accompaniments. “Normally I reach out for thinly sliced onion, cilantro, and a good Mexican cheese,” Pedrosa says. “Queso Oaxaca or queso blanco pair nicely!”

Serves 8

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breasts), cubed

3 cups chicken stock
1 large onion, sliced into ¼-inch strips
1 cup diced tomato (canned or fresh; if using whole canned tomatoes, chop or crush slightly)
1 cup sliced carrots (¼-inch rounds)
¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon coriander
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 corn tortillas
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 whole chipotle in adobo
Zest of 1 lime
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
Thinly sliced onion, cilantro, and Mexican cheese (optional)


► In a mixing bowl, season cubed chicken with crushed chipotle, salt, and pepper.

► Preheat 8-quart stock pot over medium heat. Add extra virgin olive oil. Add chicken and sear until gently browned on all sides; this should take 5 to 8 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and set aside.

► Set heat to low, add garlic to pot, and saute for 2 minutes. Add sliced onion and cook until onion becomes tender, about 5 minutes. Add cilantro and bay leaves, mix to incorporate. Cook until garlic and onion have started to caramelize, stirring occasionally to prevent contents from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

► Once onion and garlic have caramelized, add tomato. Allow tomato to release any extra liquid and cook down until almost dry. Add carrot and cooked chicken; adjust seasoning.

► Add chicken stock and 3 cups of water. Increase heat to medium and bring to slight simmer. Allow to simmer for 25 minutes.

► Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, pulse tortillas until they appear crumb-like. Zest one whole lime and set aside.

► Remove chicken from pot and let cool. Once cooled, shred chicken by hand.

► Add remaining spices, chipotle, shredded chicken, and tortilla crumbs to the soup and allow to simmer for an additional 20 to 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning as needed.

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