Friday, June 4, 2010
Tortilla Soup Challenge
I remember sampling Tortilla Soup for the first (and, embarrassingly, only) time in 1993 when I took a trip to Dallas, TX to see the University of Notre Dame football team play in the Sugar Bowl. It was so delicious and is one of the dishes we have been talking about ever since....seriously! So when girlichef , who is on a quest to find and sample as many different Tortilla Soup recipes in hopes of finding the ultimate, issued the Tortilla Soup challenge I was excited to join in. I searched the internet and my library of cook books looking for a recipe which appeared somewhat authentic but still doable in my home kitchen. I found a recipe by Martha Stewart in her book "Martha Stewart's Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook" which fit the bill perfectly. The soup, which included chicken, was delicious! An ideal combination of smokey chili, rich chicken broth and just the right about of kick.
Here is the Tortilla Soup Recipe from "Martha Stewart's Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook" adapted slightly.
For Chicken and Stock
1 large whole chicken (about 4 1/2 pounds), cut into 10 pieces
8 cups basic chicken stock (I used good quality chicken stock in a box)
3/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 dried bay leaf
2 tablespoons coarse salt
For Chile Puree
2 dried Pasilla chiles
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons neutral tasting oil (plus more for tomatoes)
3 tomatoes, halved
1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
For Finishing Soup
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
fried tortilla strips
3/4 white or green cabbage, halved lengthwise, cored, and thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, finely diced (I used Vidalia onion because I had many on hand and no red ones)
1/2 cup finely grated Cotija cheese (1-2 ounces) (I used a monterey jack/mild cheddar combo block)
3/4 cup cilantro
1 ripe, firm avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
Cook chicken and fortify stock Place the chicken, stock, peppercorns, bay leaf, and the salt in a large stockpot. Bring just to a boil, skimming foam from the surface, then reduce heat and simmer until chicken is just cooked through. About 9 -12 minutes for breast pieces and 12 - 18 minutes for dark meat pieces. Remove chicken from stock. Once it is cool enough to handle, slip off skin and pull meat from bones, then shred meat into bite-size pieces. Strain stock through a sieve into a clean saucepan.
Meanwhile, prepare chiles toast the chiles in a dry medium skillet over high heat until fragrant and charred, about 1 minutes on each side. Let cool a bit, then split and chiles lengthwise and scrape out seeds; discard the seeds. Put chiles in a bowl and cover with warm water to soften, about 20 minutes (do not drain). If necessary, weigh chiles with another bowl to keep them submerged.
Make Puree Heat broiler with rack about 5 inches below heat source. Lightly oil tomatoes and broil until charred in spots or about 5 minutes. Let cool briefly, then coarsely chop. Using the same skillet as above, heat oil over medium-high heat and saute onion until translucent, about 3 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking. Add the tomatoes and cook 2 minutes more. Stir in chiles and soaking liquid. Allow mixture to cool slightly before pureeing in a blender until smooth. Strain mixture through a sieve, pressing with a flexible spatula to extract as much liquid as possible (discard solids).
Finish Soup Add puree to fortified stock and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Add shredded chicken and cook just to heat through, then stir in lime juice.
Serve Ladle soup into serving bowls and serve garnishes in individual bowls alongside.