This golf club’s chicken tortilla soup has a cult following. Here’s how to make it

This chicken tortilla soup from Las Colinas CC has a cult following.

Courtesy of Las Colinas CC

When Brandon Testi arrived in the kitchen at Las Colinas Country Club ready to take over as the club’s executive chef almost one year ago, he quickly learned two things. First, the club’s chicken tortilla soup had a cult-like following. Second, there was no recipe.

To make matters even more challenging, descriptions of the soup varied greatly from member to member. Some thought it was tomato based. Others said it relied on chicken stock. A few members even claimed it had a thicker, pureed consistency. While the chef’s initial conversations with members didn’t provide much guidance as to how to recreate the soup, Testi did learn one significant fact. “I was taken aback by the importance of this soup at this property,” he says.

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It took the chef two to three weeks of research and development to dial in the requisite flavors that the soup should have. Fortunately, Chef Testi was born and raised in southern California, so he brought a familiarity of Tex-Mex cuisine with him when he began working at Las Colinas. The finished product (recipe below), is a soup that, according to Testi, has proven to be a year-round hit. “It’s a rich and hearty soup but the flavors are still light and refreshing,” he explains, “so it works in the summer, as well.”

If you’re going to undertake the process at home, there’s one piece of advice that Chef Testi says is critical to success. “Don’t rush the process,” he advises. “It’s imperative that you roast the chicken feet and bones almost until they burn, and you need to sauté the vegetables as hard and as heavy as you can to draw out all of that flavor.  If you just throw everything in a pot with water you’re not going to get the same result.”

When done right, the ensuing soup is a crowd-pleaser — something that Chef Testi has learned firsthand over the past year. “I never thought a soup could have so much influence at a country club,” he says.

Las Colinas Country Club’s Famous Chicken Tortilla Soup


1/8 cup avocado oil
7 garlic cloves
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
4 celery ribs, roughly chopped
2 extra large carrots, roughly chopped
2 dried bay leaves
1 tbsp. whole black peppercorns
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
2 chicken feet
2 chicken carcasses
1 gallon of cold water
1 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted
1/4 cup of Kosher salt
3 dried guajillo chili peppers
1 tsp. coriander seeds, toasted
1 jalapeno, roughly chopped
3-4 six-inch corn tortillas, cut into thin strips


In a pre-heated oven set at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, roast chicken feet and chicken bones until well caramelized and golden brown (about 45 minutes).

Over medium-high heat in a large pot, heat the oil until shimmering, then add the garlic, onion, celery, carrot, chili peppers, thyme, and bay leaves.

While the vegetables are cooking, in a sauté pan over medium heat, dry toast the peppercorns, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds until aromatic (about 10 minutes).

Add the toasted spices to the pot with the vegetables and sauté the mixture until well-colored and fragrant (about 15 minutes).

Add the cilantro, as well as the roasted chicken bones and feet, and cover with cold water.

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Slowly bring the contents of the pot to a simmer, being careful not to let the liquid boil—that will produce a cloudy chicken stock, which you don’t want.

Simmer the stock for no less than six hours, but ideally between eight and 10 hours, skimming off any impurities and fat that occasionally rise to the surface.

While the stock is cooking, heat a quarter cup of vegetable oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Add the tortilla strips in batches, being careful not to over-crowd the pan, and fry until crispy. When crispy, remove strip from the oil and place on a wire rack to cool.

When the stock has finished cooking, strain the liquid through a fine mesh chinois, leaving just the broth behind. (Discard the solids.)

*The stock can keep for 7 to 8 days, if stored in an air-tight container and kept in the refrigerator. If frozen, the stock will keep for three months. If not using the stock once it finishes simmering, chill immediately and reheat as needed.

To Serve:

Ladle your desired amount of hot broth into a soup bowl, then top with about four ounces of shredded cooked chicken breast; 1/4 of a fresh jalapeno sliced into thing rings (seeds removed); 1/4 of avocado, sliced; one large pinch of shredded Monterey Jack cheese; a generous serving of fried tortilla strips; and 2 to 3 sprigs of fresh cilantro.

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