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 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.