Thursday, December 10, 2009
I know winter is here, because I have had soup about five out of the last seven meals.
Oh, and Mother Nature dumped 18 inches of snow outside our front door.
It seems like there is some internal clock that craves warm liquids as soon as the weather turns from that pleasant fall chill (when I crave baked goods) to downright cold.
I had intended to use the leftover Thanksgiving turkey to make a turkey soup, but just couldn’t bring myself to face the leftovers (I have become a meat snob of sorts, and the cheap turkey that contained about five ingredients did not sound good). So instead I scrounged the freezer for chicken breasts that I stored away after cutting off most of the meat.
I spotted some tomatoes that I froze and blanched during those warm summer months (when I crave fruit and grilled veggies) and immediately thought of Mexico. Well, partly I thought about it because I am going there in a month!!! But that is another story. As soon as I thought of Mexico, I grabbed Rick Bayless’ Mexico: One Plate at a Time, and searched for tortilla soup—a deliciously light soup, with a flavorful, lime-tomato broth.
With Mother Nature just getting started playing with the snow, we will likely have cabin fever for a few weeks (wishful thinking) to come. It’s nothing a bowl of soup, and a couple of shovels, can’t cure.
Tortilla Soup (w/ chicken)
6 corn tortillas
vegetable oil for frying
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or pressed
1 small onion, died
2 dried pasilla chiles, stemmed seeded and torn into flat pieces
1 15 oz. can tomatoes, or 2 large tomatoes, blanched and peeled
6 cups chicken broth
1 large sprig fresh epazote (I used dried)
6 oz Mexican queso fresco, or grated Monterey Jack cheese
I large ripe avocado
1 lime cut into wedges
shredded chicken (optional)
1.Heat oil in skillet, about ¼ inch deep. Cut tortillas into strips and fry in hot oil. Oil should not be smoking, but hot enough to sizzle right away. Fry for about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden. Drain on paper towels.
2.Pour all but a thin layer of oil from skillet, and sauté onions until translucent. Add garlic and sauté another minute. Remove from heat.
3.Puree onion garlic mixture with tomatoes in blender. Heat in soup pot about 10 minutes until it thickens slightly. Add in stock and epazote and simmer 30 minutes.
4.Season with salt.
5.To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with a few tortilla strips, a little crumbled, toasted chile, cheese, some avocado chunks and cilantro. Serve with a lime wedge.
Tip: if adding chicken, boil chicken on bone until cooked through. Use broth from cooking chicken in soup. To remove fat, chill broth first and skim solidified fat off of top.