Let’s talk about real foods over a bowl of Chicken Tortilla Soup

September 23, 2016

By Kay MacInnis, Registered Dietitian

Today, let’s talk about real foods! We should all be trying to eat foods that are simple and as close to natural as possible, foods made from ingredients you recognize and can pronounce.

Avoid processed foods. They generally have more sugar, salt and fat, which can increase our risk of developing chronic illnesses. Make sure the foods you purchase and prepare will eventually spoil or rot. You might be surprised to learn that many of the foods we eat last for years – that’s right, years!

If you rely on convenience foods, learn to make your own short cuts. For example, if you need to get out of the door quickly in the morning, instead of instant oatmeal full of sugar, sodium and fat, make a large pot of quick-cook oatmeal over the weekend and refrigerate what you don’t use for breakfast during the week. You can reheat the oatmeal as fast as you can prepare the instant version.

Look for ways to make your own instant foods without sacrificing the real!

Chicken Tortilla Soup


  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup peeled and diced carrot
  • ½ cup peeled and diced celery
  • 2 tsp. seeded and diced jalapeño
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. dried oregano
  • 14.5 can diced, no-salt tomatoes
  • 5 - 6 cup non-fat, low-salt chicken stock
  • 1 cup roasted, shredded, skinless chicken
  • 2 tbsp. plus ½ tsp. lime juice
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • Chopped cilantro
  • ½ medium avocado


  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • In a 6-quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion with ¼ tsp. of salt, carrot, celery and jalapeño.
  • Sauté the vegetables until they begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Stir in garlic, cumin and oregano.
  • Add the tomatoes with their juice and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add chicken stock.
  • Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat to low. Cover the pot and allow the soup to simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Place the tortillas in a stack and cut into ¼” to ½” strips.
  • Spread the strips out on a sheet pan and bake 7 to 8 minutes – just until crisp. Transfer from oven and set aside.
  • Add the remaining ¼ tsp. of salt, 2 tbsp. lime juice and chicken to the simmering soup.
  • Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
  • For the final touch add the remaining ½ tsp. of fresh lime juice. (You might want more lime juice and a pinch of salt).
  • To serve, ladle soup into individual soup bowls, top with crumbled tortilla strips, cilantro and avocado.

Nutrition information: 215 Calories, 6.7 grams fat, 21 mg. cholesterol, 23 grams carbohydrate, 15.7 grams protein and 348 mg. sodium.


This is another in a weekly series of healthy recipes from Kay MacInnis, registered dietitian at Providence Health in Columbia, S.C.

Kay promotes health and wellness, helping cardiac and diabetes patients eat their way to healthier lives. She works in consultation with the trained chefs at Providence, combining her nutrition knowledge with their food prep know-how to create delicious, healthy dishes for patients and the public. She also conducts a number of health and wellness events for the public, including the monthly Providence Cooks! classes.

"She doesn't just give you the fish, she teaches you how to cook it."

 – a Kay MacInnis fan and Providence Cooks! regular.