It's time to think outside the taco when it comes to tortillas. When added to a flavorful soup broth with black beans and corn, they act as a thickener and add distinctive flavor for soup that's warming and comforting. Along with shredded chicken, fresh cilantro, and cheddar cheese, this hearty soup is truly a meal in a bowl.
Halve and peel onion. Cut halves into ¼” dice. Drain and rinse black beans. Stem cilantro and mince stems. Halve tortillas and cut into ¼" strips. Rinse chicken, pat dry, and season both sides with ¼ tsp. salt and a pinch of pepper.
Sear the Chicken
Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches if needed, add chicken to hot pot and cook until browned on both sides and chicken reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees, 4-5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a mixing bowl, cover with plastic, and rest 10 mintues. Reserve pot.
Start the Soup
Return pot used to sear chicken to medium heat. Add 1 tsp. olive oil and onions to hot pot. Cook until onions begin to soften, 2-3 minutes. Add black beans, cilantro stems, and seasoning blend and cook until aromatic, 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, corn, chicken base, and 5 cups water to pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly reduced, 10-12 minutes. While waiting for soup to simmer, toast tortillas.
Toast the Tortillas
Heat 1 tsp. olive oil a medium non-stick pan over medium heat. Add tortilla strips to hot pan and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown and crispy, 5-7 minutes. Set aside ½ cup strips for garnish and add remaining strips to soup pot. Allow soup to simmer 10 minutes. They will break down and help thicken soup. Taste, and season soup with 1 tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper if desired.
Finish the Soup
Uncover chicken and shred into bite-sized pieces with your hands. Add chicken along with any accumulated juices to soup. Cook until warmed through, 2-3 minutes.
Plate the Dish
Serve soup in bowl and garnish with reserved tortilla strips, shredded cheddar, and cilantro leaves.