Tomatillo Tortilla Soup

September  4, 2015
2 Ratings
Photo by Elizabeth Stark
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

A tangy, vibrant tomatillo soup made with rich homemade chicken stock, roasted tomatillos and peppers, and crispy fried tortilla strips. —Elizabeth Stark

What You'll Need
  • For the chicken stock:
  • 5 pounds chicken drumsticks
  • sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons heat-tolerant oil like grapeseed, divided
  • 2 medium-sized yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 4 carrots, peeled and rough chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, rough chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley stems (if you have them)
  • 2 bay leaves (fresh, if possible)
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 4 quarts water
  • For the tomatillo tortilla soup:
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 quart tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed well
  • 1 yellow onion, trimmed, peeled, and quartered
  • 2 Cubanelle peppers (or Anaheim)
  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 serrano pepper
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • sea salt
  • 6 corn tortillas, cut into strips
  • neutral, heat-tolerant oil for frying tortillas
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cup crema (Mexican sour cream)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • crumbled cotija cheese (optional)
  1. For the chicken stock:
  2. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  3. Sprinkle chicken legs all over with sea salt. Drizzle 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil in a roasting pan and arrange chicken legs on top. Roast chicken for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted parallel to the bone reads 165° F. (Check chicken for doneness at the 20-minute mark.)
  4. Reserve 1 pound cooked chicken for the soup: Cover and put in the fridge until needed. Set roasting pan aside to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, set a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add remaining 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, and then onions. Sauté until soft, 7 minutes or so, then add all remaining ingredients but the water. Continue to sauté, stirring often, until vegetables soften and wilt, about 10 minutes.
  6. Add roasted drumsticks, scraping any accumulated juices or brown bits in as well. Add the water. Bring mixture to a boil, then turn heat to medium-low (enough heat to produce a gently bubbling simmer). Add sea salt sparingly—just enough to bring out flavors. Cook until chicken meat falls off the bone, 2 to 3 hours.
  7. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain mixture into jars. Set aside to cool, then seal and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Stock can also be frozen for up to 6 months.
  1. For the tomatillo tortilla soup:
  2. Set broiler to high.
  3. Trim woody base from garlic cloves, then lightly smash with the side of a knife. Leave papery skin intact.
  4. Arrange garlic, tomatillos, onion, and peppers on a rimmed baking sheet. Set under the broiler. Check every few minutes. Use tongs to set any tomatillos that have burst in a bowl, turn the peppers, and grab any garlic that's starting to blacken. Continue until all the vegetables have roasted nicely, 10 to 15 minutes total.
  5. Set pan aside to cool. Under cold running water, remove the skin, stems, and seeds from the peppers.
  6. Place all of the roasted vegetables in the pitcher of a blender (you may need to do this in two batches), add 2 cups chicken stock, and pulse until mixture is well blended, but still has a bit of texture. (Use caution if mixture is hot.)
  7. Pour into a sturdy pot and set over medium-low heat. Add 2 cups remaining chicken stock, stir, and then add sea salt to taste.
  8. Pull chicken meat from reserved roasted drumsticks, set in a small dish, and warm in the oven.
  9. Meanwhile, set out a deep-frying pan and pour in neutral oil to 1-inch depth. Set over medium/medium-high heat. Fry tortilla strips until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. Set cooked strips on a stack of paper towels and sprinkle with sea salt. (You can also skip the frying and use high-quality tortilla chips instead—but be mindful that store-bought chips can be very salty.)
  10. Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with tortilla strips (or chips), chicken, avocado slices, a drizzle of crema, cilantro, and cotija. Serve soup with a lime wedge.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Elizabeth Stark
    Elizabeth Stark
  • Tad
  • Kathleen
  • catdaddysammy
Elizabeth Stark, along with her husband Brian Campbell, chronicles her passion for simple, fresh recipes on the award-wining food blog Brooklyn Supper.

9 Reviews

Tad February 1, 2017
I just made this soup, and like all mexican cooking, it requires some painstaking prep work, but it's definitely worth it. The result is a flavorful, aromatic and soothing dish which will make you go 'aaahhh' after each spoonful. As for the recipe, I made my stock a little different. I had it already at hand in my freezer. I did not bother to peel the peppers after roasting. Everything went straight to the food processor. After all, the smokey flavor for the soup comes from the broiling of the skin, doesn't it? The roasting of the tomatillos I did in another batch and processed them through a passetout, like a normal tomato sauce. As for chips, I was lucky to get my hands on Lime flavored tortilla chips, I think they are Clancy's or something, and they were perfect for the garnish. I think the single most expensive ingredient was the cotija cheese at $5.49 per 10 oz. The whole dish isn't something, if you're on a budget, but the end result is really worth it.
Kathleen January 15, 2016
After baking chicken, remove flesh. Put bones, and skin in pressure cooker, along with onions, celery, carrot, and bay leaf. Cook for 45 minutes. Hardy broth! :-)
Kathleen January 15, 2016
Forgot to say add water
catdaddysammy January 15, 2016
made this and it was amaze-balls. FOR REAL.
Jerry November 3, 2015
I forgot to say use backs,necks that most people throw in trash. The smell of making stock will drive you to getting out of the pot before its finish cooking.
Jerry November 3, 2015
I make a lot of stock with left over meat and bones. Cook meat,bones on medium and added vegs and spice to your liking and sample a spoon full will cooking on low heat.
Kathleen October 2, 2015
Thanks Elizabeth! :-) Will keep you posted.
Kathleen September 28, 2015
Could you pull chicken off bones, to use later, and then boil bones for stock?
Elizabeth S. September 28, 2015
Hi Kathleen, I frequently make bone stock from pork or beef bones, but find that for good chicken stock, you really need the skin, flesh, and bones. I've used drumsticks here because they're one of the cheapest cuts of chicken, but if it still feels too wasteful, you could buy two whole chickens, reserve the breasts, thighs, and leg meat for eating, and use any leftover bones plus the spines and wings for stock. It'll probably take a bit of trial and error to get the right proportions for a nice, thick stock. Keep me posted!