Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Favorite - Tortilla Soup

I've been lucky enough to work with two different chefs in two different kitchens who also spent time in the Mansion's kitchen. Both were pretty darn good chefs and amazingly (not really) they had similar versions of Tortilla Soup. I suspect it was Dean's version, but that I do not know for sure. I've never eaten at the Mansion.

Here's the compilation (in scaled-down form) of the tort soup recipe I developed working with both of the chefs. It was ultimately put on the banquet menu at Central 214. Thanks Susy and AS.

Central 214 Tortilla Soup

Canola oil for sauteing and other uses
4 Roma tomatoes, cut in half longways
2 tomatilloes, cut in half
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, rough chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 qt. chicken stock (homemade is best, of course)
1 qt. tomato juice
2 tbsp chili powder, plus more to adjust seasoning
1 tbsp cumin, plus more to adjust seasoning
8-6 inch corn tortillas (cheap stale ones are fine), torn to small pieces
juice of one lime
1 bunch cilantro, stemmed and chopped (perhaps, reserve some for garnish)
Other garnishes:
grilled chicken shredded, diced avocado, grated cheddar, sour cream, cilantro, crispy corn tortilla ribbons

1. Coat tomatoes and tomatilloes in oil and season with S&P, place in small pan (skin side down) and roast in 450 degree oven about 25 minutes-until soft and slightly charred. Cool.
2. In 6-8 qt stockpot, saute onion, celery, garlic with bay leaves, S&P, chili powder and cumin until celery and onion are soft but not caramelized. Add roasted tomatoes and tomatillos with their juices. De-glaze roasting pan with a splash of chicken stock and add to stock pot.
3. Cook on high until tomatoes start falling apart. De-glaze with chicken stock, add tomato juice and bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaves (both).
4. Add tort pieces and simmer another 2-3 minutes, add cilantro.
5. Using a stick blender to puree until smooth. You can also work in batches and use a regular blender, but LOOK-OUT!---safety issue.
6. Finish with lime juice and adjust seasoning with S&P and cumin/chili powder if needed.
7. Garnish with shredded chicken, avocado, cheese, sour cream, crispy tortilla strips and/or cilantro.

Here's how I like to plate (bowl) it:

In a pasta bowl place a table spoonful, or two, of diced avocado and shredded chicken. Gently ladle the soup around the avocado and chicken. Float a heaping teaspoon of sour cream in the middle, sprinkle with a pinch of shredded cheese. Float a few crispy strips and top with minced cilantro.

Serve with a mushroom and spinach quesadilla wedge.