• Yield: Serves 4

This is my take on the traditional Mexican soup, a tomato-based broth that’s made super aromatic by garlic and onions, plus a little heat from jalapeños. It’s hearty enough to fill you up, but it’s not going to bog you down for the rest of the day. This soup is simple enough for a weekday meal, but it’s also a fun dish to entertain with because you can set out a big spread of toppings such as chopped onion and scallions, sliced radishes and jicama, Homemade Tortilla Chips (recipe below) —or store-bought— guacamole or sliced avocado, a variety of grated cheese—you get the idea! It’s especially perfect as a lighter option when having people over to watch a big game on TV. If you are going to be serving this for a crowd, you can leave out the chicken and use veggie broth instead to make this vegetarian-friendly. Then add shredded chicken (or short ribs or pulled pork) to your toppings bonanza for the meat eaters.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 cup finely chopped scallions

  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and minced

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 3 cups chicken broth

  • 2 Roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded and diced

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 medium breasts)

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)

  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

  • Sliced avocado, for serving

  • Homemade Tortilla Chips (see recipe below), for serving

  • Cotija cheese, for serving

Pull Up a Chair Pull Up a Chair by Tiffani Thiessen with Rachel Holtzman


In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the scallions and jalapeños and cook, stirring, until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until slightly fragrant, 1 minute. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, cumin, coriander, and chili powder and season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken breasts, raise the heat to medium high, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cover with a lid. Cook until the chicken is completely cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and remove the chicken breasts from the pot. Set aside to rest and cool slightly.

When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken and return it to the pot. Add the lime juice and cilantro.

Serve with sliced avocados, tortilla chips, and cotija, or any other toppings of your choice.

Homemade Tortilla Chips
Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer

If you have the time, making your own tortilla chips is such a win. They taste so much fresher than anything out of a bag and are surprisingly easy to make. They’re just corn tortillas that are baked until golden and crisp! No need to make your own tortillas, though. I’m not that crazy. If you’re planning to serve these with soup, chili, salad, or anything else that calls for scooping, you could cut them into strips instead of triangles.


  • 12 corn tortillas

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • Kosher salt


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Lay 6 tortillas on a cutting board and brush each with a light layer of the oil, making sure the edges also get coated. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, then turn them over and brush the second side with oil. Stack the tortillas into a pile and cut them into 6 equal wedges or 1/2-inch-wide strips.

Arrange the tortillas on the prepared baking sheets in a single layer. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking. Once the chips are golden brown and crispy, remove them from the oven and let them cool completely. Transfer the cooled chips to an airtight container or eat immediately, which is what happens at my house.

Recipes excerpted from Pull Up a Chair © 2018 by Tiffani Thiessen. Photography © 2018 by Rebecca Sanabria. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.