Almost a year ago I ranted and raved about the Cook's Illustrated Cookbook. This humongous collection of LOVE is still making dinner time at the Nawrots a happy thing. My son calls it the "magic cookbook", because every single thing I've made from its pages has been a resounding success. I'm here to tell you about one that recently blew our socks off.
Tortilla Soup! I have found it to be difficult to find a good recipe for Tortilla Soup that doesn't take an entire day to make. The folks at America's Test Kitchen are brilliant at breaking down a challenge into something you can do on a weeknight. So here we go.
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1/2 inch wide strips
1 TBL vegetable oil
2 (12-ounce) bone-in split chicken breasts or 4 (5-ounce) bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed and trimmed
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 large white onion, trimmed on root end, quartered and peeled
4 garlic cloves, peeled
8-10 springs fresh cilantro plus 1 sprig fresh oregano or 2 sprigs fresh epazote
2 tomatoes, cored and quartered
1/2 jalapeño chile
1 TBL minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1 TBL vegetable oil
1 avocado, halved, pitted and diced fine
8 ounces Cotija cheese, crumbled, or Monterrey Jack cheese, diced fine
Minced jalapeño chile
Mexican crema or sour cream
1. For the tortilla strips: Adjust oven rack to middle position, heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread tortilla strips on rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with oil and toss until evenly coated. Bake until strips are deep golden brown and crisped, about 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet and shaking strips to redistribute half-way through baking. Season strips lightly with salt and transfer to paper bowl-lined plate.
2. For the soup: While tortilla strips bake, bring chicken, broth, 2 onion quarters, 2 garlic cloves, cilantro and oregano, and 1/2 tsp salt to boil over medium-high heat in large saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chicken is just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Using tongs, transfer chicken to large plate. Pour broth through fine-mesh strainer and discard solids. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken into bite-sized pieces, discarding bones.
3. Puree tomatoes, remaining 2 onion quarters, remaining 2 garlic cloves, jalapeño, and chipotle in food processor until smooth. Heat oil in Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering. Add tomato-onion puree and 1/8 tsp salt and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture has darkened in color, about 10 minutes.
4. Stir strained broth into tomato mixture, bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer to blend flavors, about 15 minutes. Add shredded chicken and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Place portions of tortilla strips in bowls and ladle soup over. Serve, passing garnishes separately.
To make ahead: Soup can be prepared up to adding shredded chicken to soup at the end of step 4, let cool and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Return soup to simmer over medium-high heat before proceeding. Tortilla strips and garnishes are best prepared day of serving.
A few Sandy notes:
* This recipe was PHENOMENAL, and seemed to even get better when reheated, as some soups do.
* When you are baking your tortilla strips, really watch them closely...my oven runs hot and they burned easily.
* I was a little nervous about finding the canned chile in adobo sauce and the Cotija cheese, but they were available in my regular grocery store.
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