Saturday, September 28, 2013

Tortilla Soup

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Our weather turned damp and chilly again today. As luck would have it, Bob and I were walking along the river when it began to pour. We were at the mid-point of the trail, so our options were limited and the only certainty was we'd be drenched before we got back to the car. Spring comes early to Oregon. I retire my winter recipes and restock the pantry and freezer at the end of February and move on to lighter and more colorful meals. Days like this one make me wish I still had a soup or stew hidden away. What I did have were the ingredients for a wonderful tortilla soup developed, years ago, by Martha Holmberg for Fine Cooking magazine. The soup is wonderfully warm and filling, but the spice level is very low. If you like your tortilla soup hot and spicy, you'll have to add more chili powder or use one that has more heat. The broth that is poured over the ingredients must be very hot in order to warm them. While the recipe is scaled to feed two, it can easily be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd. You can also swap beef for the chicken that's used in the soup. It does not keep well, so don't make more than can be eaten in one meal. Here's the recipe.

Chicken and Tortilla Soup...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite, courtesy of Martha Holmberg and Fine Cooking magazine


1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus another 1/2 to 1 cup for frying tortillas

1/4 cup finely chopped onion (from about 1/2 small onion)

1 tablespoon chili powder; more to taste

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Salt to taste

4 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth

Fresh cilantro: six 2-inch stems for the broth, plus 1/4 cup roughly chopped leaves for garnish

4 fresh corn tortillas, 6 inches across, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips

1/2 cup corn kernels (canned is fine)

1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained

3/4 cup diced fresh tomato

For the garnish:

1 ripe avocado, diced and tossed with a squeeze of lime juice

1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco, feta, or ricotta salata

2 dollops sour cream

Lime wedges for serving


1) Place 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan or small soup pot, add onion, and cook over medium heat until onion has softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add chili powder and tomato paste and stir with a wooden spoon to mix and cook briefly; take care not to let the chili powder scorch.

2) Season chicken thighs lightly with salt and put them in skillet with chile paste, turning them once so they’re entirely coated. Add 1/2 cup broth and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook chicken, turning once, until it’s extremely tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 to 30 minutes. Add more broth if pan dries out.

Remove chicken from pan and allow it to cool slightly before shredding into bite size pieces. Set aside.

3) Remove any visible grease from pan before adding remaining broth and cilantro stems. Simmer, uncovered, until broth has reduced by about one-third and is quite flavorful, 20 to 30 minutes.

4) Meanwhile, fry the tortillas: Line a plate with two layers of paper towels. Fill a small, high-sided saucepan with enough oil to come to about a 1-inch depth. Heat oil over medium heat to 375 degrees F. Add six to eight strips of tortilla. With tongs or a long fork, "scrunch" them for a second or two so they take on a wavy shape. Fry until strips are golden brown, about 1 minute. Transfer to paper towels. Repeat with remaining strips.

5) Divide shredded chicken, corn, black beans, tomato, and tortilla strips between two large soup or pasta bowls. Pour hot broth over ingredients in bowls. Serve immediately. Pass avocado, cheese, sour cream, chopped cilantro and lime at the table. Yield: 2 servings.

You might also like these recipes:

Creamy Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Soup - One Perfect Bite

Chilled Avocado Soup - One Perfect Bite

Thai Fresh Pea Soup with Green Curry - One Perfect Bite

Mexican Chicken Soup - Randomosity and the Girl

Mexican Tortilla and Lime Soup - The Perfect Pantry

Posole - Spain in Iowa

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