March 22, 2008

Lisa: tortilla soup

As my mom pointed out the other day, I haven't really turned out to be much of a cook. ("You're more of a career woman!" was how she softened the blow.) That said, I think it's really important when you have a family with kids to sit down at a table for a homemade, nutritionally sound dinner every night and talk to each other. the theoretical kid has become an actual kid who is starting to eat solid foods, so I guess I'd better get this cooking thing figured out.

I checked out a cookbook from the library, and I'm really excited about it. It's called Everyday Food: Great Food Fast from the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living. The photos are gorgeous as always with Martha, and the recipes sound tasty and easy, using regular supermarket ingredients. I got Blake to go through the Spring section with me, and we marked all the recipes we thought would be fun to try. We're going to make a new one each week.

This week's effort was tortilla soup (recipe after the jump), and it was okay. The soup itself is super basic, just chicken broth with shredded, boiled chicken in it. The interest is all in the toppings you add--even the "tortilla" part is a topping. Also, garnishing a brothy (as opposed to creamy) soup with cheese is a little odd. The cheese doesn't blend in and make the soup creamier; it turns into melty self-contained globs floating in the broth, or glomming around bits of chicken or your spoon.

What I wish I'd known beforehand: The instructions as written require you to own two pots large enough to hold more than 8 cups of soup. I only have one pot that big, which meant some last-minute improvising, leading me to momentarily forget about the tortilla strips burning in the oven.

Verdict: The soup was fine, but I probably won't make it again.

Tortilla Soup

Serves 4 * Prep time: 30 minutes * Total time: 30 minutes

For the soup

4 skinless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 jalapeno chile, diced (with seeds for more heat)
6 corn tortillas (6-inch)
3 tablespoons canola oil
Coarse salt

For the garnish

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (5 ounces)
4 large scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1 green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, diced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
1/4 cup cilantro sprigs
1 lime, cut in wedges

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large pot, bring the chicken, broth, jalapeno, and 8 cups of water to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium; simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate; let cool.

2. Brush both sides of the tortillas with oil, stacking them as you go. Cut the stack in half, and then slice crosswise into 1/2-inch strips. Place the strips on a rimmed baking sheet; bake, tossing the strips occasionally, until golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Using a large spoon, skim the fat from the surface of the broth in the pot, and strain the liquid through a sieve into a clean pot (you should have about 8 cups). Shred the chicken with a fork or with your fingers, and return it to the pot. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt. Divide the soup among serving bowls, and add the tortilla strips. Garnish as desired.


The chicken can be cooked up to a day in advance; cool, then store the chicken and cooking liquid separately in the refrigerator. Shred the meat just before using. You can also use the leftover or store-bought roasted chicken in this soup; use two quarts homemade or reduced-sodium canned chicken broth instead of the cooking liquid.

Posted by lisa at March 22, 2008 09:18 AM

Wow that looks awesome. Now both the Anderson girls are cooks. Good for you guys!!

Posted by: Jeremy on March 22, 2008 07:06 PM
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