New Traditions

My husband Jay and I started dating just a few weeks after a catastrophic loss. His beloved mother, Rosalind, became ill and died in the fall of 2010. We talked about her extensively on our first date and her death made that first holiday season almost unbearable. Roz was the glue that kept her husband and boys together. They tell me she loved every single holiday and as soon as one was over she’d start filling the house with decorations to celebrate the next.

As our relationship progressed from dating to becoming engaged to getting married and having children, Jay and I started new traditions involving both of our families. Making sure Roz is remembered, celebrated and honored has always been part of that – and the best way to open the floodgates of telling funny stories and uniting in shared grief is over a beautiful bowl of her Chicken Tortilla Soup. Isn’t food magical like that?

I started making it right at the beginning of our relationship – and the smell of it simmering on the stove immediately transports Jay back to his childhood. And over the past few years, we decided to skip the shuttling to multiple Thanksgiving dinners and start a new tradition. Every year, we have turkey and stuffing (and the aforementioned mac & cheese) with the Ries family on Thanksgiving Day. Later in the weekend, we gather with Jay’s side of the family to eat this tortilla soup, tamales and more deliciousness as we celebrate Roz and the Mexican heritage she passed to her sons and grandchildren. It’s become a beloved tradition, not only easing the scheduling burden that comes along with a holiday, but creating memories of Roz for those who never had the chance to meet her. As much as she loved holidays, I like to think that she’d especially enjoy one solely dedicated to her.

Jay joined me on Minnesota Live to share the stories and the recipe this week and we hope you make this soup, enjoy it and are inspired to create traditions that honor the people you love this holiday season.

Roz’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

Gather this:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 7 ounce can La Costena chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (the entire can will make this soup very spicy! We use 1/2 can so choose your amount according to your spice taste)
  • 3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1 onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 pounds cooked chicken (we buy chicken tinga from El Burrito Mercado)
  • 1 30 ounce can black beans
  • 1 30 ounce can garbanzo beans
  • 1 30 ounce can kidney beans
  • 1 16 ounce bag frozen corn
  • Sopa (Mexican rice)
  • sour cream
  • grated cheese
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped avocado
  • tortilla chips

Do this:

  • 1 In a large bowl, combine chilis, tomatoes, onion and garlic. Coarsely puree in batches in a blender or food processor.
  • 2 Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add tomato mixture. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • 3 Stir in stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • 4 Stir in chicken, beans (rinsed and drained) and corn and heat through.


Put 1/2 cup rice in individual bowls. Ladle soup over rice. Top with cheese, sour cream, chips, cilantro and avocado.

This soup freezes beautifully (without the rice or toppings).

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