Tortilla Soup

This is the best tortilla soup I've ever had. Look at it! It's amazing.

The original recipe is from Rachael Ray, but I've tweaked it a little over the years anyway, so now I'm semi-claiming it as my own. 

Yum Yum! Here we go!

Tortilla Soup

Vegetable oil, for drizzling, plus 2 tablespoons
3 ears corn on the cob
1 red bell pepper, split and seeded
2 or 3 chicken breasts
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
Salt and pepper 
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium yellow skinned onion, chopped 
3 cloves garlic, chopped 
1 to 2 chipotle in adobo peppers, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes, 28 ounces
1 can tomato sauce, 8 ounces 
3 cups chicken stock

A note about the ingredients: 
I usually double up on the ingredients to make a huge pot of soup. I would like to say that it freezes well, and I'm sure it does, but ours never lasts long enough to freeze. It's soooo good!
Usually I'm lazy and use frozen corn.
If you don't have any poultry seasoning (I rarely do), you can use McCormick Grill Seasoning or any other salty seasoning mix you like.
A can of chipotle peppers will cost you a couple dollars. Whatever you don't use in this recipe can be frozen in an airtight container forever. One can usually lasts me several recipes. And don't be afraid of the chipotles! If you don't like spicy food, just add one.They add a wonderful deep, smoky flavor.
If I have any tomatoes on my counter that are a little on the soft side, I'll chop those up and throw them in. And sometimes I use a large can of tomato sauce. Because I'm a loner, Dottie, a rebel.

Garnishes (It's ALL about the garnishes BABY!):
Homemade tortilla strips 
Shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese
Sour cream
Chopped cilantro
Diced avocado
Pickled jalapenos
Brown rice, prepared

A note about the garnishes:
I always make my own tortilla strips for this. Not because I'm awesome, although you know I am! but because they're really easy and super delicious!  You can use regular tortilla strips, but then you might as well add a cup of salt to your soup. The homemade kind are so flavorful and you get to decide how salty you like them. You can see how I make mine here.
A long, long time ago I was a server at The Cheesecake Factory for something like 7 years. I learned a lot about cooking working there! We always served our tortilla soup with a little bit of rice at the bottom of the bowl, so that's how I do it (of course, they used white rice, but that's okay, too). 

Make it:
Heat a grill pan to high and a soup pot to medium high. Drizzle oil on corn and place on grill. Add red pepper to grill with corn. Char vegetables 10 minutes, total, turning occasionally. Remove to cool, 5 minutes. Remove charred skin from the pepper. (Sometimes I skip this step and saute the raw chopped peppers with the other vegetables. And I throw in some frozen corn later on with the tomatoes, tomato sauce and stock.)

While vegetables cook, dice chicken. Add 2 tablespoons oil to hot soup pot. Add chicken to pot. Season with poultry seasoning, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. 

Lightly brown chicken on each side. Add zucchini, onions and garlic and chipotle peppers. Cook vegetables with chicken 5 to 7 minutes to soften. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and stock. Bring soup to a bubble, reduce heat to medium low.

Scrape corn off cob and add to soup. Chop grilled red pepper and stir into soup.

Top with your favorite garnishes.

Do you make your tortilla soup differently? I'd love to hear about it!