It’s funny how quickly things can change. One minute I’m sitting here alone in the dark, with the only light blaring from my computer screen and a content puppy at my feet, the next I’m with unwanted company and wildly hunting a mosquito that is flapping against my screen and my keyboard. One minute I am inhaling deep really happy breaths, feeling happy about this blog and full from a huge spicy meal of tortilla soup, the next I am consumed with killing this mosquito before it eats me alive. First I feel on top of the world, and then I am surveying the damage I’ve done to my keyboard after I successfully pounded the bug dead with the back of a book, ruining the ‘n’ and ‘k’ keys in my die-mosquito-wake. 

Given my fear of mosquitoes, this doesn’t come as any surprise. One might say I am a bit obsessive and compulsive when it comes to killing them in our house because I am unable to rest until I know they are gone. If there is a mosquito anywhere in our house and I don’t kill it, it will find me, leave me husband completely untouched and inevitably I will wake up with bites covering ninety five percent of my body. That last sentence may have been a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point.

Anyway, back to why this story started out really well. Me + alone time + computer + full belly from amazing spicy soup. Spicy chicken soup. Mexican chicken soup with quickly poached chicken and avocado chunks and diced onions and carrots. Jalapeno peppers. Cheese. Cilantro. Quick. Small list of ingredients. Perfection (no mosquitoes in sight).

note: I made this recipe for, well, me! I poached the chicken because I find it yields juicier meat and is much quicker, without heating the whole house after a hot oven. And I didn’t add tortillas because I don’t care for them in watery soup form, but I’ve listed them here for those who can’t imagine tortilla soup without… tortillas. 

Spicy Chicken Soup, adapted from Barefoot Contessa
serves 4-6


1 lb of chicken breasts
1 white onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 quart of chicken stock
1 jar of crushed tomatoes (not strained)
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced and seeded (I kept the seeds because I love my soup really spicy)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
3 tortillas, cut into strips
cilantro leaves, grated cheese, avocado cubes for garnish


for the poached chicken
Fill a medium sized pan with a lid and fill with enough water to cover as if the chicken breasts were inside. Salt water and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, lower heat to a simmer, put chicken breasts inside and cover until cooked through (about 15 minutes for me). When the chicken is done, remove from pot and shred liberally with a fork. Set aside.

for the soup
Meanwhile, put 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot (if your pot is too small all the ingredients won’t fit, I used my medium sized Dutch oven) and bring to a medium heat. Put in onions, celery, carrots and garlic and cook until the onions start to soften (about 10 minutes). Add chicken stock, tomatoes, jalapeno, tortillas, cumin and coriander. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer for another 5 minutes, seasoning and tasting as you go. Serve immediately when done, top with cilantro, cheese and cubed avocado if desired.

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