~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tortilla Soup( Sopa Azteca)...Rick Bayless Style


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
onion, chopped
tomato, chopped
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.

To serve:
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.


Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

Rick Bayless is one of my all time favorite chefs. I've not tried his version of tortilla soup but that will change. I love your masa harina addition, nice touch! Usually I add extra tortillas to the soup & allow them to dissolve, it thickens it and adds a lot of flavor, too. YUM! Hooray for tortilla soup!a

megi said...

Ellie, the soup looks so good, it's really cold up here and I find myself making different soups every day. I will try this recipe this week, by the way, I agree, cooking the tomatoes and the vegetales definitely help get rid of that canned taste. :)

Mihaela said...

Yummy tortilla soup, one of my favorites. I like the fire roasted tomatoes with chile, from Trader's Joe, the chile adds just a little heat :)

Ellie said...

Andrea, This recipe is definitely worth trying...it has a different twist to it, but it is really delicious!

Megi. I have been trying a few new soup recipes lately ..as we too have been having some cold weather...0 deg F for a few days in a row. Kind of wanted to do something different from the normal soups. I am sure you can tweak the recipe to your own liking...I've even thought of making it as a bean tortilla soup. Maybe I'll do that next time:)

Mihaela, I love Trader's Joe...wish we had them here as well....I sort of have to resort to what I have around here, I do like the Muir Glen Organic brand of fire roasted toasted tomatoes, so I am thankful I have that at least:)

Ping's Nom Fiction Life said...

Oh I have your blog as my favorites! I came through last year for your banana chocolate muffin and haven't comment.
We love tortilla soup but sadly haven't been cooking lately. Yours look so delish!!

Ellie said...

Ping, SO glad you stopped by:)...it is an honor that you are enjoying the blog. Really appreciate it...
I really liked this soup...and I hope you will too, when you have the chance:).
The soup isn't really hard to make...tatses especially good with homemade broth.
Again, thank you for taking the time to comment.
Have a great day!

megi said...

Ellie, we had this soup last night, it was excellent, I took your advice and marinated the chicken before cooking it. I love the fire roasted tomatoes and I used homemade chicken stock. We'll definitely make it again, thank you. :)

Ellie said...

Megi, I am so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you so much for your feedback. I appreciate it.

Yes, the fire roasted flavor does add additional flavor as well... but I am wondering....could I roast summer tomatoes and freeze them for winter...would that work? It's a thought...

megi said...

I think that would work beautifully Ellie, I would probably char the tomatoes, then remove the skin and chop by hand and freeze in individual containers in the freezer. We go to a vegetable farm to pick our own vegetables in the summer and would love to prepare some for the winter, great idea. :)