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Fast track chicken broth makes hearty soup

Fast track chicken broth makes hearty soup

Though chicken soup is best rendered from whole bird, from carrots and turnips and celery, from bay
Fast track chicken broth makes hearty soup
Put your chicken broth to delicious use in this tortilla soup, studded with strips of tender chicken breast and chunks of avocado.
Photographer: Bill Hogan/Chigaco Tribune

Chicken soup is strong medicine and, like most pharmaceuticals, compounded under lengthy, complex, covert conditions. Saving lives is serious business.

But certain afflictions — winter, flu season and empty-fridge syndrome — call for fast-tracking. Health care providers take note: Though chicken soup is best rendered from whole bird, from carrots and turnips and celery, from bay leaf and dill frond, there is another way: water, onion, cutlet.

Not flashy but efficacious. Leave on the papery onion skin; it makes the shortcut even shorter and tints the broth a “long-simmered” caramel.

Slurp, or stir into soothing tortilla soup. See results. No one — not grandma, not Big Pharma — need know your secret.

TORTILLA SOUP

Prep: 30 minutes. Cook: 50 minutes. Makes: 6 servings

1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast (1 pound), split into 2 halves

1 onion, skin on, halved

6 cups cold water

Kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons mild oil

1 onion, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, smashed

2 tablespoons adobo sauce

1 box (28 ounces) or can diced tomatoes

3 cups grated cheddar

1 avocado, cut into small cubes

1 lime, cut into 6 wedges

Tortilla chips

1. Poach: Settle chicken and halved onion in a medium saucepan. Pour in water and sprinkle in 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil; skim off any foam. Add black pepper, lower heat and simmer until chicken is fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Pull out chicken. When cool enough to handle, shred.

2. Brown: Meanwhile, heat oil in a separate saucepan. Tumble in chopped onion, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 8 minutes.

3. Swirl: Scoop onion and garlic into the blender. Add the adobo sauce and the tomatoes. Swirl smooth. Strain this mix into the onion-browning saucepan; cook, covered, over medium-low heat until thick, about 15 minutes.

4. Toss: Toss together cubed avocado, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and a squeeze of lime.

5. Simmer: Strain the broth, discarding the halved onion and other solids. Add broth to the saucepan with the thickened tomato. Cook 5 minutes. Add shredded chicken and heat through, about 1 minute.

6. Serve: Heap 1⁄2 cup grated cheese into each of 6 bowls. Scoop in hot soup. Scatter on avocado and a handful of broken tortilla chips. Serve with lime.

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