Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Manly Mike's Chicken Tortilla Soup

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone :)  Manly Mike is back with his super authentic Tortilla Soup recipe.  Unfortunately, the 5th of May falls on a Friday this year and my duties on Friday during wedding season do not include cooking!  So, I'm gonna try and whip this up on Sunday and drink a corona to celebrate Cinco de Mayo a few days late AND celebrate my impending trip to Dallas to visit my mom.  I'm probably going to get my fill of Mexican fare while I'm there....BUT!  I cannot get enough Mexican food, so I'll consider it a warm up/apperitivo :)

Manly Mike's Chicken Tortilla Soup

My favorite cuisine is definitely Mexican, not the kind you’d find at Taco Bell or even a slightly better chain like a Chipotle or a Baja Fresh.  I’m always looking for the authentic stuff.  Don’t get me wrong, a crispy taco with lettuce and tomato is fine, but if I can find a tacos al pastor (pork) with wrapped in a double soft corn tortilla topped with just chopped onions, cilantro, and a touch of lime, I’m in heaven.  I was spoiled with two work trips to a city in central Mexico, San Louis Potosí, far from the tourists on the coasts.  I stayed in the Holiday Inn Express, which had a restaurant – I was not expecting much, but everything I had was awesome.  My favorite dish in my two weeks there was the tortilla soup that I tried on a whim because I had a $25 food per diem and I was trying to get to that limit.  When I came back, I tried to find one like it, but nothing I found was remotely close, so I went about trying to recreate it.  I found a general one in a cookbook and added a few things, tinkered here and there and this finalized recipe is very close to that original. 

·         6 cups chicken broth (I just use bouillon cubes, tastes the same to me at 1/4 of the price)
·         1 medium onion, finely chopped
·         1 ½ pounds of chicken, thigh or breast, cut into ½ -inch cubes
·         Juice of two limes
·         6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
·         Dried pepper paste (I used this in my chili recipe and it is perfect here.  Take two dried and de-seeded chile peppers, I used one chipotle and one ancho, and quickly toast both sides on a screaming hot pan until they blister.  Plunge into about a cup of water for about 15 minutes to hydrate.  In a food processor, completely blend the peppers in the water.)
·         ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
·         1 can, hominy
·         olive oil
·         salt and pepper

·         1 avocado, cut into 1/2 –inch cubes
·         8 oz of crumbly Mexican style cheese, such as queso fresco, cut into ½-inch cubes (this cheese won’t melt in the soup)
·         Tortilla strips (I make mine fresh by cutting corn tortillas into strips and quickly frying them to a light golden brown, and adding salt right when you take them out of the oil)
·         Sour cream

·         In a large saucepan, heat about 2 Tbls of olive oil over medium-high heat, stir in the onion until it just starts to sweat, then throw in the garlic.  Lower the heat to medium and cook for about 7 minutes or so.  Increase the heat, push the vegetables to the side, add about another 1 Tbls of olive oil and toss in the chicken, stirring until golden (about 5-7 minutes).  Add the dried pepper paste (you might want to add about half at first to make sure the soup is not two spicy, adding more to your taste later).  Then stir in the chicken broth and hominy.  Lower heat to simmer for about 15 minutes and skim off any foam.  Stir in half of the cilantro and all of the lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
·         Place avocado cubes, cheese cubes, and a small amount of tortilla strips in a bowl.  Ladle soup over, adding more tortilla strips and fresh cilantro on the top.  Add a dollop of sour cream and sit back and relax with my favorite Mexican beer, Negra Modelo.


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