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Leigh Belanger’s Tortilla Soup

February 15, 2019
by Jean Hamilton

Tortilla Soup  

Makes 2 quarts

I like to get started on the Tortilla Soup by making a quick stock while cleaning up the roast chicken meal – it’s pretty hands-off and gives the soup a big flavor boost. I pick any remaining meat off the chicken carcass and reserve it with the rest of the leftover meat for when I finish the soup a few nights later.

For the stock:

6 to 8 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
Juice of one lime, plus more to taste
Handful of cilantro stems

  1. Pick remaining meat from chicken bones and reserve. Place the chicken breast bones and backbone into a medium-sized pot, cover with water by about an inch, add garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin, along with lime juice and cilantro stems.
  2. Bring to a simmer. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface, and simmer about 15 to 20 minutes. Strain the broth, discarding solids. Taste and add more salt as needed.
  3. If you’re going to reserve the stock for making soup another night, cool it in the pot for about an hour then transfer to a container and refrigerate.

For the soup:

2 to 3 whole dried chiles, stemmed and seeded (I like ancho—they’re not too hot)
1 15-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes in their juice
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 medium white onion, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
3 garlic cloves, peeled
Reserved stock
Reserved chicken meat
Salt, to taste

For garnishes:

Tortilla chips
Plain yogurt or sour cream
Chopped cilantro
Lime wedges
Sliced avocado

  1. Toast the chiles in a dry skillet over medium heat until they become fragrant, about 1 minute on each side. Remove from heat and transfer to the jar of a blender along with the tomatoes.
  2. Sauté onions and garlic. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, add the oil along with the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring, until golden, about 7 minutes. Scoop up the onion and garlic with a slotted spoon, pressing them against the side of the pot to leave behind as much oil as possible, and add them to the blender with the chiles and tomatoes. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add the purèe to the pot, adjusting the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 6 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced to the thickness of tomato paste. Add the stock and salt and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  4. Stir any reserved chicken meat into the soup. Simmer for a few minutes to warm it through. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  5. Ladle the soup into bowls, then crumble a handful of tortilla chips into each bowl. Serve with garnishes.