Sopa Azteca (Tortilla Soup)

Tortilla soup is something that takes many forms now-a-days. You can have chunky or silky, low-fat or not so much. This particular version is a new favorite of ours. This is a soup made super smooth with the use of a blender with all the chunks added to the bowl. I love that you can pick your own toppings and everyone gets what they want. I tend to like this a little spicier, so I add a couple different chili (ancho and guajillo) powders to the original recipe. Not everyone loves it that way, so if you stick with the traditional dried pasilla (negro) chile, you will get a smoky, sweet, mild heat. We make chicken stock on a regular basis and I often make this using that. I really do think the homemade broth makes a big difference, but you can absolutely use store bought with great results. Add this healthy comfort food to your arsenal!


Sopa Azteca

Adapted from Rick Bayless‘ Mexican Everyday

Serves 4 to 6

Recipe from Frontera Grill/Topolobampo

1 large dried pasilla (negro) chile, stemmed and seeded

One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium white onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick

3 garlic cloves, peeled

2 quarts chicken broth

1 large epazote sprig, if you have one (I have not tried this yet but it’s on my radar)

4 (about 1 1/4 pounds total) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 large ripe avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin and cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Mexican melting cheese (like Chihuahua, quesadilla or asadero) or Monterey Jack, brick or mild cheddar

A generous 4 cups (about 6 ounces) roughly broken tortilla chips

1/2 cup Mexican crema, sour cream or creme fraîche for garnish

1 large lime, cut into 6 wedges, for serving

Quickly toast the chile by turning it an inch or two above an open flame for a few seconds until its aroma fills the kitchen. (Lacking an open flame, toast it in a dry pan over medium heat, pressing it flat for a few seconds, then flipping it over and pressing it again.) Break the chile into pieces and put in a blender jar along with the tomatoes with their juice. (A food processor will work, though it won’t completely puree the chile.)

Heat the oil in a medium (4-quart) saucepan over medium-high. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 7 minutes.

Scoop up the onion and garlic with a slotted spoon, pressing them against the side of the pan to leave behind as much oil as possible, and transfer to the blender. Process until smooth.

Return the pan to medium-high heat. When quite hot, add the puree and stir nearly constantly, until thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 6 minutes.

Add the broth and epazote, if using. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt, usually about a generous teaspoon (depending on the saltiness of the broth).

Just before serving, add the chicken to the simmering broth. Divide the avocado, cheese and tortilla chips between serving bowls.

When the chicken is done, usually about 5 minutes, ladle the soup into the bowls. Garnish with the crema. Pass the lime separately.



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