Tortilla Soup

Published March 1, 2005.

Why this recipe works:

By breaking the classic tortilla soup recipe down to its three main components—the flavor base (tomatoes, garlic, onion, and chiles), the chicken stock, and the garnishes (including fried tortilla chips)—we found that we could devise techniques and substitute ingredients to make our own… read more

By breaking the classic tortilla soup recipe down to its three main components—the flavor base (tomatoes, garlic, onion, and chiles), the chicken stock, and the garnishes (including fried tortilla chips)—we found that we could devise techniques and substitute ingredients to make our own compelling version of tortilla soup. To achieve maximum flavor for our tortilla soup recipe, we composed a puree made from chipotle chiles, tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalapeños, and a cilantro-oregano substitute for the Mexican ingredient epazote, and then fried the puree in oil over high heat. We then added the puree to low-sodium canned chicken broth, which we strained after poaching chicken in it and infusing it with onions, garlic, cilantro, and oregano. Turning to the garnish, we oven-toasted our lightly oiled tortilla strips instead of frying them and substituted sour cream and Monterey Jack cheese for the harder-to-find Mexican crema and queso fresco.

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Makes about 9 cups, serving 6

Despite its somewhat lengthy ingredient list, this recipe is very easy to prepare. If you desire a soup with mild spiciness, trim the ribs and seeds from the jalapeño (or omit the jalapeño altogether) and use the minimum amount of chipotle in adobo sauce (1 teaspoon, pureed with the tomatoes in step 3). Our preferred brand of low-sodium chicken broth is Swanson's Natural Goodness. If advance preparation suits you, the soup can be completed short of adding the shredded chicken to the pot at the end of step 3. Return the soup to a simmer over medium-high heat before proceeding. The tortilla strips and the garnishes are best prepared the day of serving.

Ingredients

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