Tortilla soup has got to be one of my favorites — probably because you can add so many goodies to it and take it from good to great in no time. I use this recipe from Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday as a jumping-off point. Serves 6.
For the soup:
- 1 large dried pasilla chile, stemmed and seeded
- One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted if you can find them)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
- 1 medium white onion, cut in half and sliced 1/4″ thick
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 quarts chicken broth
- Salt to taste
- 1 ¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken, cut into ½” cubes (I use thighs)
- 1 teaspoon epazote (optional, use fresh if you have it)
- 1-2 chipotles in adobo, chopped (optional)
For the garnishes:
- 1 bag regular tortilla chips
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted, cut into 1/4″ cubes
- 1 ½ cups shredded/grated Monterey Jack, or cheddar cheese
- 1 lime cut into quarters for serving
- ½ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
- Mexican crema or sour cream
Toast the chile in a small frying pan on medium heat for a minute on each side. Break it into pieces and put in a blender jar or the work bowl of a food processor along with the tomatoes.
Heat the oil in a large 4-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Scoop out the onions with a slotted spoon, leaving most of the oil behind in the pan. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the onions to the tomatoes and process until smooth.
Return the pan to the heat. Add the mixture from the blender and cook, stirring until thick, like tomato paste, about 6 minutes. Add the broth, epazote, chicken, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and season with the salt, add the chipotles if you want some additional heat.
To serve: In each bowl, crunch up a handful of tortilla chips, add the soup and garnish with anything (or everything) on the garnish list. Serve and enjoy!
Notes: This is a pretty flexible recipe. I used chicken thighs because I think they’re more flavorful. You can use breasts or even a left-over rotisserie chicken. Same for the pasilla chile —substitute any dried chile you have. I like to add a couple more tortilla chips halfway through my bowl, so there’s a mix of textures. Usually we leave out the crema or sour cream, but for some reason (another recipe I was playing with?) there was crema in the fridge, so this time it was one of the garnishes.