A Skinny Fat Red Soup

My kids classify soups with their own language. This week I made one of my favorites, Corn Tortilla Soup, and my daughter asked, “Is it skinny or fat?”  What she means is, “Is it brothy or thick and creamy?”

She likes creamy white soups, and my other children like a brothy red one. They can’t categorize this recipe because it appears to be rich ( or fat) but it really is low fat. And it is tomato-based. Even though it is time-intensive, the combination seems to please everyone.

Often I substitute canned tomatoes for the fresh ones the recipe calls for, but my garden tomatoes are ripe and ready to use. Fresh garden tomatoes made all the difference in flavor. Thanks to Jim Fobel’s Diet Feasts for this great hearty soup.

1 tablespoon corn oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, mined or crushed through a press
4 medium tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 bay leaf
1/4  teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
6 corn tortillas
1/4 cup canned tomato sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 quarts chicken stock or canned broth
1 medium skinless boned chicken breast half (6 oz)
1 cup fresh, frozen, or canned corn kernels
black pepper
1/2 cup sour cream

First. In a large nonreactive soup pot or saucepan, warm 2 teaspoons of corn oil over moderate heat. Add the onions and saute until soft and lightly colored, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Stir in the tomatoes (no need to peel), cumin, chili powder, bay leaf, and oregano. Coarsely chop 3 of the tortillas. Add the tortillas to the pot along with the tomato sauce, sugar, chicken stock and chicken breast. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring once in a while. Reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is just cooked through 4 – 5 minutes. Remove and let cool. Continue to simmer the soup for 25-30 minutes longer. Allow to cool slightly.

Second. Remove the bay leaf. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Strain back into the pot. Add the corn kernels and bring back to a boil. Remove from the heat. Stir in the salt and a pinch of pepper.

Third. Meanwhile, use the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil to coat a heavy skillet set over a moderately high flame. Stack the remaining 3 tortillas and cut them into four strips. Cut the strips crosswise into 1/4 inch slivers. Turn them into the hot oil and brown well, stirring frequently, until crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Tear the chicken breast into fine shreds.

Fourth. Spoon the soup into 6 shallow soup bowls. Divide the tortillas and shredded chicken among them. Add 1 tablespoon of the sour cream to each. Serve hot.


  1. Erik
    Sep 12, 2008

    I love the way kids name things! So often it reminds me that names come from the way we think about things, so they challenge our assumptions about everyday experiences.
    Anyway, I am looking forward to trying this recipe. Thanks!

  2. An Ordinary Mom
    Sep 12, 2008

    Skinny or fat … how cute 🙂 !!

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