Friday, April 19, 2013

Weekend Cooking: Tortilla Soup

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.

Tortilla Strips

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
Line wedges
Fresh cilantro
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 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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rhapsodyinbooks said...

We love tortilla soup, and we have found that it gets so much better the second day, that we don't eat it the first day anymore! It's sort of like rum cake - you have to wait for it to "season"!

bermudaonion said...

This sounds wonderful! I could eat those tortilla strips all day long.

Ti said...

I DROOL over tortilla soup and I make a mean one. Add a salty margarita and I am so there!!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Yum! I will absolutely be trying this one. I've been experimenting with some different soups and I've been looking for a good tortilla soup recipe.

Zibilee said...

I love tortilla soup, but have never tried to make it before. I just thought it would be too hard. This recipe proves me wrong, and makes me want to try it. It's the first thing I want to try when I am back on my feet, or better yet, I will have the hubs make it!!

JoAnn said...

This cook book has been on my wish list for waaaaay too long... maybe I should start dropping Mother's Day hints!

Heidenkind said...

I love tortilla soup, but I've only ever ordered it from a restaurant. I'm sure anything I made would never measure up to some of the soups I've had!

Unknown said...

Dang this sounds good!! I'm going to be trying this one soon! Thanks Sandy.

caite said...

oh look, someone else with a recipe from ATK today.
I love your son's name for it, the magic cookbook. And he is right.

I can find the chili in adobe, no problem, but for some reason my market sells no Mexican cheeses. off to the Mexican market for me..which honestly, is a fun trip anyhoo.

Unknown said...

My family loves tortilla soup, but I admit, I don't make it often. Will have to give this recipe a try seeing how good it is.

Beth F said...

I'm like Caite - the canned Mexican stuff = no problem. The cheeses are little harder to track down.

(Diane) bookchickdi said...

I have yet to find a good tortilla soup recipe, thanks for sharing this one.

Laurie C said...

Thank you for telling us about this recipe! I have leftovers from an open can of chilies in adobo in the fridge and this sounds like a great way to use some of it. I just made a pumpkin soup and added just a little too much of the chilies to it. Muy auténtico, my husband said, as we both stuffed bread into our mouths to quench the fire.

Gilion at Rose City Reader said...

Yum! I never make tortilla soup, but now I want to.

I love the picture of your cat. I had an all-white cat named Daisy who looked just like yours.

Rose City Reader

Peggy Ann said...

You can never go wrong with a Cooks Illustrated recipe!

Sue Jackson said...

I add canned chipotle chiles in adobe sauce to everything - it's my favorite flavor!! Most recipes only call for a 1 or 2 chiles, so you can put the rest of the chiles in separate mini ziplocs, one per bag, along with a Tablespoon of sauce in each and throw them in the freezer - then they are ready to throw into anything and they stay fresh!

We love tortilla soup, too. This recipe looks a bit more complicated than the one we use (though ours has the same tortilla strips on top), but it sounds delicious.


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Julie P. said...

I have a Tortilla Soup recipe that takes about a half hour! I have no doubt that this one is much better!