Tortilla Soup / A traditional pulpy base of pureed roasted vegetables adorned with bits of poached chicken, studs of creamy avocado, and shards of toasty corn tortillas.

Tortilla Soup

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From “Almost Meatless: Recipes That Are Better for Your Health and the Planet” by Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond (Ten Speed Press, 2009)

The recipe variations for Mexico’s renowned sopa de tortilla are as countless as riffs on Grandma’s chicken noodle soup. Its popularity, like Gram’s elixir, stems from a soul-satisfying mix of bold and subtle flavors. Our adaptation calls for a traditional pulpy base of pureed roasted vegetables adorned with bits of poached chicken, studs of creamy avocado, and shards of toasty corn tortillas. Its spicy kick comes from a duo of chiles: the fruity poblano and the fiery chipotle.

Serves 4 to 6

  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bone-in skinless chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into large dice (about 1 cup)
  • 1 pound plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 2 poblano chiles, seeded and cut into large strips
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 corn tortillas, brushed with vegetable oil on each side and cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 dried chipotle
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 or 2 sprigs fresh oregano leaves, chopped (1 to 2 teaspoons)
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Sour cream

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

To prepare the chicken, bring the stock to a boil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chicken, reduce to a simmer, cover, and poach for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and reserve the stock. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones and set aside.

To prepare the vegetables and the tortilla strips, combine the corn, onion, tomatoes, garlic, poblano chiles, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the oil in a large bowl, tossing to coat the vegetables with the oil and seasonings. Spread the vegetables on the prepared sheet.

Spread the tortilla strips on a separate baking sheet. Transfer both pans to the oven. Toast the strips for about 10 to 12 minutes, until they are golden brown. Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes, just until they begin to brown at the edges.

While the vegetables are roasting, rehydrate the chipotle chile. Remove its stem, slice it in half, and discard the seeds. Soak the pepper in a small bowl of very hot water for 10 minutes.

To finish the soup, return the stock to a simmer and transfer the vegetables from the oven to the pot. Crumble half of the toasted tortilla strips into the stock and add the rehydrated chipotle, discarding the soaking water. Simmer for about 15 minutes.

Add the cilantro and oregano. With a handheld blender, puree the vegetables, tortillas, and herbs into the stock (the chipotle will add significant heat to the soup, so for a milder batch, remove it before blending). (Note from Jill—I left the whole chile in and thought the heat was just perfect, warming but not necessarily spicy.) If you are using a regular blender, puree the soup in batches and take care to avoid hot splatters. Stir in the chicken and lime zest and juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the remaining tortilla strips, avocado, and sour cream.

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