After living in Mexico full time for over 10 years now, people often ask me if I make an authentic Mexican dishes.
My one exception: I make a mean Tortilla Soup!
Step 1) cut the stems off 5 or 6 fresh tomatoes, and slice an X on the bottom.
(A 15oz can works fine, too, if it’s not tomato season.)
Throw the tomatoes in a bot of boiling water for 5-10 minutes. (To loosen up the skins.)
Step 2) Slice a small onion and sautee it for 10 minutes. (Add a little water if it looks like it might burn.) Toward the end of those 10 minutes, add 6 cloves of garlic.
Step 3) take the skin off the tomatoes.
Step 4) Throw the tomatoes, onions, and garlic in the blender and blend it up thoroughly. (At least 30 seconds.) Unless your blender in unbelievably huge, you’ll need to blend in two batches.
Step 5) simmer over a medium-high flame until it’s the consistency of tomato paste. This will splatter. I never have that kind of patience and am happy to simmer for 10 minutes until it’s the consistency of tomato sauce. And that seems to work pretty well.
Step 6) Add 6 cups of chicken stock and simmer for 30 minutes. Unless your husband hates all things chicken, then add thawed turkey stock from last Thanksgiving. (And, if like me, you use unsalted stock, ADD SALT! If you use commercial stock or bullion cubes, don’t add salt.)
Step 7) While the soup is simmering, tear a chile ancho or pasilla into very small pieces, and then sauteé it quickly for maybe 30 seconds. Get rid of the seeds and veins first. (Don’t rub your eye while doing this.) Chile ancho or pasilla won’t make the soup spicy, but will give it a mysterious, smoky flavor.
Don’t believe me? No worries! It’s an optional garnish.
Step 8) cut cheese (preferably panela or queso fresco . . . but I never have that on hand, so we’ve got Oaxaca cheese shown below. Basically, if it’s a white cheese, preferably one that won’t melt, you’re good to go!) Cut some avocados, too.
Some people like pork rinds in their tortilla soup. I don’t think there’s anything nastier than soggy chicharrón. So really, don’t bother with that.
Step 9) dish up the soup, add the cheese, chiles, avocados, and fried tortilla strips–that’s the most important ingredient–and enjoy!
For those who don’t live in Mexico or South Texas and can’t find fried tortilla strips easily in the grocery store: cut up tortilla chips will do. Then again, it might be worth your time to take some corn tortillas, cut them into strips, dry them out overnight, and then fry them.
But, if you’re doing that, this just turned into Step #1!
I promise, this sounds like a lot more work than it is! (Unless you’re frying the tortilla strips . . . then it IS lot of work!) But it makes a memorable appetizer. Or meal. Or before-bed-snack.
And it gets better the second day!
So if you want to impress someone, this is a great soup to make!