The Aztec Five-Step


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 4 quarts water
  • 2 (2 to 3 pound) whole chickens, cut into pieces
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs epazote
  • 16 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 red bell peppers, julienned
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 carrots, sliced thin
  • 2 cups thinly sliced celery
  • 3 cups zucchini, diced
  • 3 potatoes
  • 1 pound spinach, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 avocados – peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 1/2 pounds shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3 (6 inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1/2 inch strips
  • salt to taste


Heat olive oil in large skillet and saute onions and garlic over low heat until they are translucent and soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, cumin, and black pepper, and cook over low heat, partially covered, another 10-12 minutes. Let cool, then blend in a processor until smooth. Set aside.

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Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add chicken, bay leaves, and epazote. Water should cover chicken by an inch or so. Skim off foam and fat that surface in first 5 minutes. Add reserved puree and tomato paste and cook; partially covered, with liquid at rolling simmer, for another 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to a platter. When cool enough to handle, remove skin and bones, then shred.

Add peppers, carrots, and celery to broth and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Add zucchini and cook an additional 5 minutes. Remove vegetables from broth with slotted spoon. Salt broth to taste.

Peel and parboil potatoes. Then dice and saute in a little olive oil until brown.

Place a scoop of vegetables and a heaping tablespoon of potatoes in a large soup bowl. Next, add tortilla strips, spinach, shredded chicken, avocado, and cheese. Pour piping-hot broth over everything and serve immediately.