We have had several days of rain and clouds, fog and hail. Coloradans welcome this moisture but after three days we’re ready for sunshine. Tortilla soup is my sunny exclamation for a grey day.
I started by making a chicken stock with chicken backs I had cached in my freezer along with various vegetable trimmings ─ leek tops, fennel fronds, celery stalks, carrots. This cooked for the morning, giving the house a warm, savory scent. When the stock had cooked for several hours I added two boneless chicken breasts and poached them for 30 minutes, until tender. I removed them to cool and continued cooking the stock.
Next, I prepared the tomato base. I sauteed a chopped onion in canola oil until translucent, adding 5 or 6 chopped garlic cloves at the end. I pureed these with a 14.5 ounce tin of crushed tomatoes and a tablespoon of chipotle puree. I fried this mixture in a tablespoon of oil until it darkened then added it to six cups of my strained chicken stock. This is the soup.
For the garnishes:
I shredded the chicken into bite-sized pieces and roasted two poblanos over the open flame on my stove, then peeled off the blackened skin and cut them into strips.
A delicious part of the dish is the crispy tortillas. I cut six tortillas into 1/2 inch pieces then shallow fried them in oil until crisp. I drained them by shaking in a brown paper sack. It was hard to resist a taste of these morsels!
Additional garnishes were avocado chunks, grated cheese (I used Catamount, cheddar or Jack are also tasty) and chopped cilantro. In large bowls, I stacked up portions of these ─ chicken, cheese, chilés, avocado, broken tortilla strips, cilantro.
I poured the boiling hot soup over each bowl and served them with lime wedges and additional tortillas on the side to add as desired. You’ll want more!
Top: Lunch in Sausalito, oil on canvas, 18 x 44 inches
(Bud Shark and Cydney Payton)