Chicken Tortilla Soup
Don't know about you, but I cooked way too much food for a Super Bowl that didn't even feature the Steelers. Among the leftovers was several cups of shredded chicken intended for nachos, which I turned into this flavorful, aromatic Mexican soup.
The original recipe called for making stock from scratch and roasting fresh tomatoes, but I had to get this on the table, fast, after work, so I took a few shortcuts. (Do your kids complain about how hungry they are when you're cooking, too?) You'd never know it, though, as the chile-tomato puree adds a wonderful complexity to the soup. Slice and fry a few extra tortillas -- they're great for snacking.
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 cups chicken stock
2 cups shredded chicken
2 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into large pieces
15-ounce can roasted tomatoes
1/2 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic
Ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup canola oil, for frying
14 white or yellow corn tortillas, sliced into 1/4-inch strips
2 avocados, pitted, peeled and cubed
1 to 2 cups shredded quesadilla or Monterey Jack cheese
2 limes, cut into wedges
Chopped fresh cilantro
Heat 1 tablespoon oil over high heat and fry the torn chile pieces quickly for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Be careful not to burn them or they will have a bitter taste.
Puree fried chiles with tomatoes, onion and garlic in a blender. Put the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a deep pot over high heat. Add blended ingredients and fry for about 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add chicken and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
In a large skillet, heat canola oil over medium-high heat and fry tortilla strips until lightly browned around the edges, about 45 seconds. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
In separate bowls set out avocados, cheese and lime.
Ladle into bowls and top with a handful of tortilla strips. Each person can add avocados, a squeeze of lime juice, shredded cheese and cilantro according to taste.
Serves 6 to 8.
-- Adapted from "Muy Bueno: Three Generations of Authentic Mexican Flavor" by Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack, Veronica Gonzalez-Smith and Evangelina Soza (Hippocrene, 2012, $22.50)
Gretchen McKay: email@example.com, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay.