Friday, February 4, 2011

Metal Mark's Tortilla Soup

Ah Tortilla Soup. You love it, you know I love it and I love it when I get a recipe down that tastes like a good Mexican restaurant. Mind you, I cut a lot of the lardy stuff out because, and I'm sure you know by now, my goal is to cook as healthily as possible, without skipping out on that all important “flavor” thingy. Because, then, you know...what's the point?

So, after some practice and doing a bit of 'take this / take that' from various recipes, I got one down that I'm sure you're gonna love. Because I know we did. And it's around 300 calories and low sodium.

You ready? Let's get started!

Now first, you can use either chicken broth or stock. She-Ra and I usually have a good amount of stock kept in our freezer. For this, though, I used broth. If you don't know how to make chicken stock, dude, it's way easy. We usually make ours after a chicken feast and use the whole carcass and bits, which we place in a big pot with chopped white onion, celery and carrots (the holy trinity!). Pour in enough water to cover the chicken and put the temp to low or simmer. Let that simmer for a few hours, strain through either a micro sieve or cheesecloth into a freezable bag or container and, wa-binga!, you have stock. Easy right? And it really adds a whole new dimension to your soups or whatever.

Here's what you'll need for the Tortilla Soup:

1 lb of boneless skinless chicken breasts

6 cups of chicken broth (I just used one of those big 48oz cans of the stuff)

Tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil

1 white onion, chopped

1 tablespoon of chipotle pepper

2 or 3 cloves of peeled and chopped garlic

1 can of whole peeled tomatoes (I used Muir Glen organic with chiles)

Salt and pepper

2 limes


Hot sauce

An avocado

Jalapenos, chopped onion, radishes (for garnish if you want)

For the actual tortillas, you can either get a couple of corn tortillas, cut them into strips, place them in a preheated oven at 450 degrees and bake them until they are light brown and crispy or you can buy the pre-stripped bagged kind, like from Fresh Gourmet, which works just as well...but has more sodium. But is easier. It's up to you.

In a large pot over medium high heat, put in the oil. Then add the garlic and onion until they are soft and translucent. Transfer the onion and garlic into a blender and add the tomatoes and chipotle. Make sure you use the entire can of tomatoes. You want that juice buddy. Hit the “Puree” button and blend it until it is all smooth.

Here, again, you have a choice. You can either pre-cook your chicken, in an oven set at 450 for about 10 minutes (season them with salt and pepper first!) and drop it in the soup later or you can try poaching them. To poach the chicken, return the blended stuff to the pot and add the broth (or stock) and bring it to a simmer. Season the chicken with the almighty salt and pepper and drop the breasts into the liquid. Poach them in the soup for about 10 minutes or until they are cooked all the way through. Once, cooked properly, remove the chicken and slice or shred them before serving. A good way to shred chicken is by using a fork and dragging it on the breasts until you have rendered the chicken down to a pile of shreds. We just sliced them thin because it was getting late, we had a few cocktails and I didn't feel like shredding chicken. Sliced chicken works best here anyway I think.

Now add the lime juice and a good amount of chopped cilantro. Let it simmer a bit more getting the juice and cilantro all up in that piece. If you want, which we did, we added a bit of hot sauce. Nothing fancy, just the stuff you find at Food City, a Mexican carniceria or, crap, Ralph's. Tapatia and Valentina work great here. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste.

Once the soup is in the bowls, top it with the chicken, tortilla strips, avocado (which you need to cut into cubes, and easy way is just, after cutting the avocado in half and removing the pit, take your knife and trace down the pulp, all the way to the shell, then scoring width wise, in a criss-cross fashion, then just scoop it out and there you go!) and the other garnishes that I highly recommend.

In the end, it might look like this:

Yeah, I know – crappy presentation. Look pal, like I said, it was getting late, we were pretty hungry and I think “RuPaul's Drag Race” was about to start. I should've wiped the rim of the bowl but...whatever. It was good eats anyway. I served it with a salad of romaine, black beans, tomatoes, red onion, shredded cheese and this southwest ranch dressing that I made (I can get you that recipe too). Super yummy and pretty darn healthy.

There you go. Good luck, good eating and above's good for you!

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