Tortilla Soup

14

As promised, here’s one for my Weslaco friends – taking you all the way back to Yogurt Kountry.

My dad is a minister.  We lived in Weslaco, where he served as Associate Pastor and Music Minister at First Baptist Church, for nearly 20 years. We spent a lot of time at the church and knew our small town pretty well.  Sharing the alley with First Baptist was a small strip center which housed Yogurt Kountry, facing Texas Blvd, the “main drag” of Weslaco.  Yogurt Kountry was easy access from the church and as such we had many lunches there. They had a variety of sandwiches to choose from and as the name implies, frozen yogurt with several flavors and mix-ins as a end-of-meal treat.  The star of the menu however was, by far, the Tortilla Soup.

I imagine Yogurt Kountry employees making vats of this soup each day.  I know that the recipe was highly coveted back in the day and it was a well-guarded secret for the fans asking to recreate it at home.  I believe that the restaurant changed locations around the time I packed up and moved to Waco but the menu remained unchanged, showcasing this chunky, homey soup.

I’m not sure if Yogurt Kountry is still in business or if it, like myself and my family, has moved on to other adventures.  Lucky for us though – we were finally able to get our hands on the formula and ensure that the small sandwich shop from Weslaco, Texas lives on forever through our warm bowls of Tortilla Soup.

What food memories of your hometown do you have?  Comment below!


Tortilla Soup

  • 6 pieces of chicken, or 3 leg quarters
  • 2-3 celery sticks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 3 green onions, diced
  • 1 (1 pound) bag frozen corn (I tend to use half a bag)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder, or 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 T caldo de pollo
  • 1 T caldo de tomate
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Tortilla chips
  • Shredded American cheese

To start, we are going to boil the chicken and create a nice broth in the process as the base of the soup. Place the chicken, celery and half of the onion in a large stock pot and fill it with water to about an inch from top of the pot.  Add the garlic salt and pepper, bring to a boil and cook until the chicken is done, about 20 minutes.

I went for three leg quarters in this recipe –  I think chicken thighs are extremely flavorful and lend themselves well to this soup.

***You can definitely speed this recipe up a bit by starting with chicken stock and pre-cooked chicken.  To do so, fill your stock pot up with chicken stock, add the celery (this time chopped celery) and onion, bring to a boil and then pick up the recipe at the point of adding the rice.  You can also  make this soup vegetarian – simply swap the chicken stock out for vegetable stock, swap the caldo de pollo for another tablespoon of caldo de tomate and omit the shredded chicken.  I may also bulk up on the green pepper and tomatoes for a heartier soup.***

When chicken is done, remove the chicken and celery sticks, leaving the broth and onion in the pot. If you’d like to increase the amount of soup, add another cup or two of water.

Chop the celery and shred the chicken; set aside.

Add the rice to the pot and continue to cook until rice is almost done, about 15 minutes.

4

Add the cooked chicken and celery along with the rest of the ingredients to the pot, including the other half of the chopped onion.  Just a note – I usually only add about half of the bag of corn.  This is a fairly chunky soup so I back off on the corn just a touch.

A quick note about two ingredients that I love – caldo de pollo and caldo de tomate.  Essentially, these are chicken and tomato bullion.  In our house, we lovingly call them “chicken powder” and “tomato powder”. They pack a punch of concentrated flavor and are super handy to have in your spice drawer.  Taste them before using for the first time to get a feel for the salt level and then I think you’ll find a new friend in your everyday cooking!  I often add a little caldo de pollo or caldo de tomate to the water when boiling rice for an added boost of flavor.

7

Check the seasoning of your broth, adding more salt, pepper or “powders” as desired.

Cook 15-20 more minutes, or until the onion is clear.

11

Stir in some chopped cilantro, reserving a little top the soup with.

To serve: ladle the soup into a bowl and top with tortilla chips and shredded American cheese.

15


Full Recipe

Tortilla Soup

  • 6 pieces of chicken, or 3 leg quarters
  • 2-3 celery sticks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 3 green onions, diced
  • 1 (1 pound) bag frozen corn (I tend to use half a bag)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder, or 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 T caldo de pollo
  • 1 T caldo de tomate
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Tortilla chips
  • Shredded American cheese

Put chicken, celery and half of the onion in a large pot.

Fill to about one inch from top with water.

Add garlic salt and pepper.

Boil until chicken is done.

When chicken is done, remove the chicken and celery sticks, leaving the broth in the pot.

If needed, add another cup or two of water.

Chop the celery and shred the chicken; set aside.

Add the rice to the pot and continue to cook until rice is almost done, about 15 minutes.

Add the cooked chicken and celery along with the rest of the ingredients to the pot, including the other half of the chopped onion.

Check the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper or caldo de pollo/tomate as desired.

Cook 15-20 more minutes, or until the onion is clear.

Add chopped cilantro.

To serve: ladle the soup into a bowl and top with tortilla chips,shredded American cheese and chopped cilantro

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