Tortilla Soup...Rick Bayless Style A couple of summers ago, my husband and I had the chance to visit my brother and his wife.... who at the time, lived in downtown Chicago. They took us to many restaurants... including Frontera Grill, Rick Bayless' well-known restaurant. And since they lived within walking distance of the restaurant, they suggested we go there for a Saturday brunch. I was quite excited, as I love Rick's style of cooking....packed full of flavor and authentic in style. We woke up early that morning to make sure we would make it in time...there's usually a very long line. But we managed to get seated, and had a lovely brunch. The food was delicious....worth waking up for:). Remembering that day, I quickly picked up his cookbook from my shelf entitled, Mexican Everyday. Leafing through the book, I spotted a recipe for tortilla soup. Decided to make it that day for lunch...
Now, I know most tortilla soups have chunks of tomatoes, and various vegetables in it... almost all use canned tomatoes.... I've done it that way before, but my husband can quickly taste the "canned" taste, and so I have not made it that way in a long time. But Rick's version has you puree the soup base, including a can of tomatoes:)...but he also cooks down the pureed vegetables for a bit, and I think that eliminates the "canned" taste... In any case, I think I have found a new favorite way of making tortilla soup.
I did change a couple of things...added a bit of masa harina at the end, to sort of thicken the soup ever so slightly and to give the soup extra corn flavor. Now you can easily skip that, if you like. Also, since I like to add some fresh vegetables to almost any meal:), I decided to add some fresh onion and tomatoes as additional garnishes. Simply optional. Oh, I almost forgot...I used only 2 chicken breasts instead of 4. I think it was plenty...and actually felt the soup could easily be done without the chicken. Rick's version uses raw chicken, but he says you can also use cooked chicken...so I marinated mine and cooked it for additional flavor. You can use any tortillas you prefer. You can even make your own, using corn tortillas and then baking them. Use as little or as many tortillas as you like. I left some of my tortillas whole, as I like to break mine in the soup, but you can break them up beforehand...it soaks up some of the soup and thickens it a bit. The lime adds a real nice touch. Loved the soup. Hope you enjoy...
Tip: I think this is a great soup to make, especially when you have some leftover chicken that needs to be used up...
Feel free to add some black beans or a few corn kernels for a heartier variation.
You will need: inspired and adapted a bit from Rick Bayless, Mexican Everyday.... Makes about 10 cups...probably just enough for 6 servings.
1 large dried pasilla (negro) chile, stemmed and seeded*
15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted, which is what I used)
2 TBS olive oil
1 medium white onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
2-4 chicken breasts, cooked and cut in cubes or shredded**
1 1/2 cup shredded Mexican melting cheese
4-5 cups tortilla chips, roughly broken
*Rick mentions that you can substitute 1 TBS of ground chili for the pasilla chile, adding it to the onion mixture...I haven't tried it with the powdered chili version yet. If you are doing this for children, you might even want to skip the chili altogether.
** I like to marinate my chicken with a bit of garlic, cilantro, olive oil and a bit of salt the night before or a few hours before I make my soup. I then grill the chicken or pan fry. You can also use leftover rotisserie chicken or leave it out completely.
To thicken a bit and to flavor: totally optional, but I like it
2-3 TBS masa harina
3-4 TBS water or stock
Mix the the 2 ingredients until you get a thick slurry and add to simmering broth at the end.
Toppings: any or all
avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
cilantro, roughly chopped
extra fresh chile
Mexican crema, sour cream or creme fraîche
lime, cut into wedges
1.Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 7 minutes. Set aside.
2. Toast the chile in a dry pan on medium heat, pressing it flat for a few seconds, then flipping it over and doing the same on the second side. This should take about 30 seconds or so...don't over toast the chile or it will become bitter.
3. Cut or break the chile into pieces and place them in a blender. Add tomatoes with their juice.
Add the reserved cooked onion and garlic. Process until smooth.
4. Heat the saucepan on medium-high heat, add a drizzle of oil and when quite hot, add the puree.
5. Stir the puree nearly constantly, until thickened. Slightly cover with a lid if need so as not to splatter all over. This should take about 5-6 minutes and have a tomato paste consistency.
6. Slowly add the broth. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes.
7. Add the chicken to the simmering broth....and masa harina slurry( if using). Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes( the soup won't thicken too much). If using raw chicken cook for for 5-7 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
8. Taste and season with salt.
In bowls, add tortilla chips and cheese. Ladle some of the soup and a few pieces of chicken. Garnish with some chopped avocado, onion, cilantro, tomatoes and sour cream( or crema), if desired. Squeeze a bit of lime juice.