Friday, February 15, 2008

Tortilla Soup

This recipe is largely from James Peterson’s Fish & Shellfish, one of my favorite cookbooks. He gives some credit for it to Rick Bayless’s Authentic Mexican (Bayless has authored some great cookbooks, Mexican Everyday being a favorite of mine).
Makes four first course servings.

Tortilla Soup with Crab or Chicken
Print recipe only here


* 4 ears sweet corn, or 2 cans organic whole kernals or two 10-ounce packages of frozen organic white corn
* 1 onion, finely chopped
* 3 garlic cloves
* 2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
* ½ t oregano
* 2 T canola oil
* ½ cup Muir Glen fire roasted crushed tomatoes
* Two 32-ounce boxes (8 cups) Imagine free-range chicken broth
* 4 marinated, grilled chicken breasts* or about a pound of lump crabmeat
* Fresh cilantro
* Juice of 2 limes
* 4-6 fresh corn tortillas, cut into thin strips
* 1-2 ripe avocados, cut into chunks

Sauté the onion, garlic, jalapeño and oregano in canola oil over low-medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the onions soften.

Add the corn, tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Let simmer, loosely covered, for about 30 minutes. Remove cover, stir and allow to cool for about an hour (you can speed this up with an ice bath).

At this point prepare the tortilla strips and avocado and grill the chicken. For tortilla strips, heat 1 T canola oil in a 10” nonstick pan and add strips, pan-frying until crispy. Drain strips on paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Once soup has cooled well, puree between half and two-thirds of the soup in a blender (you do not want to puree hot soup or you’ll end up with burns and a very messy kitchen) and strain into a clean pot. You can puree as much as you want – I like it to have a smooth base with some texture.

Bring soup to a simmer and add lime, cilantro (crabmeat, if using) and salt and pepper to taste. If serving with chicken, slice breasts and add to each bowl. Top with soup with avocado chunks and add a small tower of tortilla strips and serve immediately.

* If using chicken, plan to marinate skinless breasts for 4 hours in a mixture of lime juice, chopped fresh cilantro, thinly sliced onion and a tablespoon or so of canola oil. Grill and allow to cool before slicing into strips.

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