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Jan 22, 2019
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WINE WITH…Chicken – Tortilla Soup

Hard to say whether this flavor-packed velvety chicken-tortilla soup is more soup or stew, but it certainly is a perfect, warming bowl of deliciousness.  As with many iconic dishes, any number of variations are possible here.  Some cooks thicken the soup with masa harina, but we find fresh corn tortillas simpler to use as well as easy to come by.   Instead of cooking their own chicken some people shred leftover meat from a rotisserie chicken to use in this soup.  Substitute queso fresco or cheddar for the Monterey Jack cheese if you want, and go ahead and spice the soup up with ancho chili.  Many fans of this hearty soup also like to top each serving with freshly fried tortilla strips or crushed chips.

Chicken-Tortilla Soup

Serves 4-6

About 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (or a combination)
6 cups chicken broth (divided use)
1 cup chopped onion (or sofrito)
1 cup diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
2-3 cloves peeled garlic
1 teaspoon each cumin, dried oregano, hot or smoked paprika
5 6-inch corn tortillas cut (or torn) into about 6 pieces
One 14.5 can black beans, drained and rinsed
One 15.25 ounce can corn kernels, drained and rinsed

For the Garnish:

Grated Monterey Jack cheese
About 1 cup cilantro leaves, minced
2 avocados, peeled and cut in halves or quarters
2 limes, cut in quarters

Preheat oven to 375°

Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer in a baking dish.  Pour about 2 cups of the chicken broth over them, or enough to just cover the chicken.  Sprinkle in about 1 teaspoon salt.  Cover the dish and bake for about 15-25 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked through.  Remove the chicken and reserve the cooking broth.

Place the onion (or sofrito) in a large pot.  Add the tomatoes, jalapeño pepper, garlic cloves and spices.  Pour in the chicken broth and the reserved chicken-cooking broth and add the torn tortilla pieces.  Cover the pot and simmer the ingredients for about 30 minutes or until the tortillas have completely dissolved (stir once or twice during cooking to make sure the tortillas aren’t sticking).  Remove pot from heat and use an immersion blender to puree the ingredients.

Shred the chicken with your fingers, or with two forks.  Stir the shredded chicken into the soup along with the black beans and corn.  Reheat the mixture over low heat.  Taste for seasoning.  To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top each with the cheese, minced fresh cilantro, avocado and limes.

*         *         *

We found that many different wines, coming in different colors and textures, worked fine with this dish.  The few that didn’t were either overtly alcoholic and heavy or so delicate as to seem ephemeral.  This is a hearty, winter-weight dish.  The wines that worked best in our tasting were just as hearty without becoming overpowering.


Bouchard Ainé et Fils, Burgundy, (France)

Mâcon Villages



(Imported by the Boisset Collection)







Lightly floral, with fresh autumnal fruit flavors and a refreshingly dry finish, this pleasing white Burgundy makes a deliciously elegant companion to this rich and rustic soup.



Dry Creek Vineyard, Sonoma County (California) Fumé Blanc 2017







As with most of the other white wines that we thought went well with the soup, this Fumé Blanc’s combination of bright, fresh fruit and crisp, even tart acidity made it stand out.








Kendall-Jackson, (California) “Vintner’s Reserve” Rosé










A blend of primarily Pinot Noir and Syrah, this wine exhibits bright strawberry flavors and taut acidity, so offers a tasty counterpoint to the velvety-feeling soup.







Matetic Vineyards,

San Antonio Valley (Chile)

Pinot Noir


(Imported by Quintessential)







This wine’s delicate fruitiness, silky mouth-feel, and gentle notes of oak all connected deliciously with the soup’s various spices and textures.  Perhaps surprisingly, the wine shows nary a hint of green herbs or vegetation.







Touraine (France)

Brut Blanc

Méthode Traditionel

Crémant de Loire


(Imported by Astor Wines)








A good glass of fizz seems designed to pair with soup, and this one, made with 100% Chenin Blanc, is a perfect example of that dictum.  Its gentle bubbles, crisp texture, and refreshing citrusy flavors make for a delectable match.