Sunday, January 17, 2010

Everything I Love in a Bowl, or Tortilla Soup

I assured you in my long-overdue return to posting back in November that we have still been cooking on Wednesdays, despite the fact that we haven't been posting about them (in fact – ack – I just discovered we haven't posted about a Wednesday dinner since April!). Now here's the first bit of proof that our collective mid-week experiments are still alive.

We started this blog (just over three years ago) to keep track of the great things we were creating together, mostly improvised from whatever drew our eyes in the grocery store. We thought it was important to document the great eating that is easily within reach on a weeknight with little forethought and lots of faith in experimentation. This is why I think we need to still be posting about these Wednesdays amongst all the other food adventures – so many great things come out of them that I'd like to be able to return to when I'm stuck for ideas in the middle of the week.

Last Wednesday we created a meal in this original spirit, I think. Over email during the day Alisha, Michelle, and I made plans – we nailed down the location (my place, as I had the giant Christmas crossword we needed to finish, and Michelle's pretty umbrella I needed to return to her) and tossed around ideas for the menu. Michelle suggested tortilla soup and that was the end of the discussion for me. I've always wanted to try making it, as it seems like a chance to unite a bunch of my favourite things in a somewhat unusual form.

Michelle brought a couple of recipes that we smashed together and added and subtracted from as we wished. The recipe below is what we ended up with. It was delicious. Rich and filling, with so many different textures and tastes all at once. A thick and smoky roasted tomato broth, fresh creamy avocados, meaty shredded chicken, three kinds of chilis, loads of cilantro, melty cheese, crunchy tortillas... So this is our version (on the first attempt at least) of that which there seem to be a million versions of. Not definitive necessarily, but delicious and a very satisfying, easy weeknight dinner.

Another one to try sometime is this
Vegetarian Tortilla Soup from 101 Cookbooks. Looks great – cherry tomatoes, shoestring tortilla strips, soft goat cheese, yum.

Wedine's Tortilla Soup
[serves 4]

6 roma tomatoes
5 chicken thighs (boneless and skinless)
1/2 onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 poblano chile, diced
1 dried
guajillo chile, soaked in boiling water until soft, then diced
1 L chicken stock

2 avocados, diced
grated cheese (whatever melty kind of cheese you like best – we used Kashkaval, a Bulgarian sheep cheese that melts really well)
a large handful of chopped cilantro
1 serrano chile, diced
fresh corn tortillas, cut into strips and baked or pan fried until lightly browned and crispy

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the whole tomatoes in a baking dish and roast until the skins split and they begin to blacken (about 30 minutes).

2. Boil a pot of water to poach the chicken. Add whole chicken thighs and poach until cooked through. Shred the meat and set aside.

3. In a large pot, saute the onion in olive oil for a few minutes until translucent. Add garlic, poblano and gaujillo chilis and saute for a few more minutes. Then add chicken stock and bring to a simmer. When tomatoes have finished roasting, peel and add to the soup pot. Break up the tomatoes with a spoon and stir to combine. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Continue to simmer for a while, or serve right away if you're hungry (as we were!)

4. Pour soup into bowls. Top with shredded chicken, avocado, cheese, cilantro, minced serrano chili, and tortilla strips.


Anonymous said...

This sounds marvelous. You can make it for me anytime. I had never thought of avocado in soup!! Very unusual. So glad you are posting Wednesdays again.

Leeeeesha said...

This soup was delicious! I had never eaten tortilla soup before, but am totally converted now. That melty cheese and creamy avocado mixed with shredded chicken and all the other fresh toppings - soooo good!

moyrad said...

The only thing i would change would be to add a little more heat in chile form - maybe more fresh red.
I am so glad we finally attempted this soup, it was soo tasty.

Anonymous said...

Sounds delicious! I have been considering this of late as well - yours might be the recipe I'll settle on. Do you think that tinned tomatoes would work as well, texturally? I have a half-can of San Marzanos in their own juice, and I'd cry if I had to toss them.