Chicken Tomatillo Soup

The best American name for this vegetable would probably be “Mexican green tomato”, but they actually taste nothing like regular tomatoes, In fact, the tomatillo is not a tomato at all. The tomatillo has a tart, lemony flavor that is enhance when cooked (especially roasted) and is an excellent base for salsas. While salsa (salsa verde) is the most popular way to enjoy tomatillo, they can be used in other ways. Tomatillos contain high amounts of vitamin A&C. Tomatillos are our #2 sales item!

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1 pound poblano peppers
1 bunch green onions
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 pound Spanish or yellow onions, diced
2 pounds tomatillos, papery husks removed, washed, and quartered
5 cloves garlic, left whole
1 bay leaf
1/2 oz. thyme (leaves only)
4 quarts good-quality chicken stock
3 pound chicken
1/2 bunch cilantro (leaves only)
salt and pepper


Roast the poblanos over a gas flame or on the grill. Char the peppers until they are black all over, then place them in a bowl while hot and cover with plastic wrap. Let the chiles cool.

Wash, dry, and trim the green onions, then drizzle a tablespoon of oil over them and toss with 1 tsp. of salt and 1/2 tsp. of pepper. Grill the onions for about 4-5 minutes, or until lightly charred on the outside and softened. Set the onions aside.

Remove the stem and seeds from the chiles and peel off the charred skins, then set them aside.

Heat a large soup pot (at least 6-quart capacity) over high heat and add the remaining vegetable oil, then add the diced onions, tomatillos, bay leaf, thyme, garlic, 1 Tbsp. of salt, and 1 tsp. of pepper. Saute the mixture for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the vegetables give off some of their liquids. Add the chicken stock and bring the pot to a boil, then add the whole raw chicken to the soup and simmer it uncovered for 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and the bay leaf.

While the chicken is cooling, add the chiles (taste them before adding to judge their heat level and adjust the amount according to your taste), green onions, and cilantro to the soup. Puree the soup with an immersion blender until it becomes smooth (you may use a regular blender, but do so carefully in small batches, as hot liquids will spin explosively when blended).

Pull all the meat off the chicken, discarding the bones and skin, then shred the chicken by hand and add the meat back to the soup. Bring the soup back to a boil, adjust the seasoning, and serve.

Recipe from the October 2006 issue of Chicago Magazine.