Tortilla Soup

This soup will make you sweat. Don’t get me wrong, it’s in the best possible way, but oof, if you’re not careful, those chipotles will getcha!

Mark Bittman is the king of simple, but delicious. This soup is so easy, just a bit of boiling and a little pureeing, and yet the depth of flavor is darn near amazing.

This tortilla soup starts like any other, boiling some chicken in water to make a broth. But this one uses chicken legs, for more flavorful meat, and adds a whole head of garlic and some onion, and then, when it’s starting to sound good already, thows in some beef bones for good measure. I’m convinced the beef bones are what makes this broth so flavorful. Beef makes everything better, always.

As if the resulting meaty broth isn’t delicious enough, the soup is then thickened with a puree of fried tortillas, onion, cilantro and chipotles in adobo. The recipes calls for you to fry your own tortillas, which I did, but I have a sneaking suspicion that you could use some store-bought hard corn tortillas to great success.

 If  you’re like me, that is, a wimp with all things spicy, careful with the chipotles. They can be sosososo hot. I’ve been eating this delicious soup with ample avocado (a must) and dollops of greek yogurt to cut the heat. Cheese works too. As do the arepas I found at the supermarket. Fried tortilla strips, allowed to get slightly soggy in the broth, are also recommended. Apparently I’m using this tasty soup as a vehicle for other tasty things. I like how this is going.

Tortilla Soup

From Mark Bittman, via the New York Times. Serves 4-6.

2 1/2 lbs bone-in chicken thighs or legs
1 lb beef bones, or a boney cut of beef (like short ribs)
1 medium onion, quartered (skin on)
1 head garlic, halved across the middle (skin on)
1/4 c vegetable oil, or more as needed
6 corn tortillas
2 T canned chipotle chilies in adobo, or to taste
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro
2 avocados, pitted, peeled and cubed (optional)
4 to 8 oz plain melting cheese, like mozzarella (not fresh) or Jack, shredded (optional)
Lime wedges for serving (optional)

  • Add the chicken, beef bones, 3 of the onion quarters (with skin), and the garlic (with skin) to a large heavy pot. Cover with ~10 cups of water. Bring a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the chicken is extremely tender, ~45-60 minutes, skimming the foam off the surface regularly
  • Remove the chicken to a plate and let cool. Strain the broth and return to the pot. Discard beef.

While the broth cooks, fry the tortillas:

  • Put the vegetable oil in a large, heavy skillet  (a cast iron skillet works well) and heat over medium-high heat. When the il is very hot but not smoking, fry 2 of the tortillas whole, turning once, until golden (2-3 min per tortilla). Drain on paper towels
  • Cut the 4 other tortillas into strips and fry until golden. Remove to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt while warm
While the chicken cools:
  • Peel the last quarter of the onion and add to a blender with the chipotle, 1/4 c cilantro, and a pinch of salt
  • Crumble the two whole fried tortillas into the blender and add enough broth to fill the blender 1/2 way up
  • Puree until smooth
Continue with the soup:
  • When the chicken is cool enough to touch, shred the meat with your fingers and discard the bone and skin
  • Add the puree to the broth in the soup pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 5-10 min
  • Add the shredded chicken, taste and season with salt
  • Serve with avocado, yogurt (or sour cream), cheese, lime and fried tortilla strips

 

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