I've always loved tortilla soup. It's one of my favorite things about being in Mexico. I'm not sure what I enjoy more - the combination of flavors and textures or the beautiful presentation of all the garnishes when they bring it to the table. Putting it together before you eat it feels special. Unfortunately, it's never that good when I order it here in the States. Typically it's just chicken broth or a flavorless tomato soup on the sweeter side leaving much to be desired in terms of fresh toppings. It's been raining all week, which is unusual for this part of the world, and soups have been making us happy and keeping us warm inside. The pasilla chiles are a must, as they lend a rich, smoky flavor that makes this soup.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
6 tomatoes on the vine, quartered
3 dried Pasilla chiles, rinsed, stemmed, seeded
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (optional)
2 corn tortillas cut in 1/2" strips and toasted until crisp
1 chopped or sliced avocado
coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
crumbled cotija cheese
creme fraiche or crema mexicana
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cover and cook until onion is tender, stirring occasionally, about 5-10 minutes. Add tomatoes, chiles, broth, chili powder and oregano. Cover and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 25 minutes. Puree in blender to desired consistency and then return to pot. Stir in shredded chicken (optional).
Ladle soup into bowls. Top with tortilla strips, avocado, cilantro, cheese and a dollop of cream.
Makes 2 large, or 4 small servings.
Adapted from recipe in Bon Apetit, 2000.