Friday, February 22, 2008
The same weekend that I made the paella, we were visited by Jen-the-bad-influence (she knows why!). Jen-t-b-i has been a world traveler of late. She was living in New Zealand for a while and then did a tour of the middle east (solo!) including Jordan and Oman.
Hearing about her adventures was fun but the best part of her visit was that she taught me how to make tortilla soup. Tortilla soup was another one of those things that always looked scrumptious to me but i couldn't eat because I didn't eat chicken. Well now I do!
I started the process early in the day when I made my own chicken stock for the first time. No pics sorry. But suffice to say it is as easy as everyone purports it to be and I shall continue to freeze all my chicken bits to this purpose. Is it SO much better than the boxed organic stock that I usually use? Well it certainly has less salt, and maybe a richness. I think I need to cook something else with it to be sure. I've been waiting to think of something in which the stock is a prominent flavor. (Another soup? A simple risotto? hmmmmmm)
Jen-t-b-i's method for tortilla soup was unusual to me, I'd be curious to know if this is how other people make it too. The stock was heated in a separate pot. In a saute pan she clarified some onion and garlic then added chopped tomatoes and cilantro to the pan. She cooked it for a bit, then blended it with the immersion blender and cooked it some more till it darkened and thickened. This mixture was then added to the stock, simmered for a bit and then it was done! I had oven-baked a couple of chicken breasts. The meat was torn and placed in the bottom of the bowls and the soup was ladled on top. At the table we had blue tortilla chips, shredded cheese, sour cream and more cilantro to add as our hearts desired. Absolutely delicious! The crunch of the crushed chips in the soup was as yummy as I imagined it would be. The broth was warm and tomato-y and flavorful. Even husband liked it and he is not a tomato fan!
Per Jen-t-b-i, to make the soup EXTRAORDINARY: Flavor the chicken with mexican spice blend before cooking it in the oven, have cubed avacado on hand as an accoutrement, and make your own tortilla strips by taking corn tortillas, flavoring them with spice blend and cutting them into strips before crisping them in the oven.