Her tortilla soup looked especially good.
I've never had tortilla soup that I remember, but it sounded like something I could make. I read several recipes to get a sense of the hybrid that everyone started with before making it their own. Pretty much the only part of Ree's that I'm keeping is the tequila, which didn't make it into the online version, and thickening the soup with masa flour. I still have a lot of tequila from my parents because I don't drink hard stuff. I do cook with it. The method I'm using here will cook off all the alcohol, so don't worry about serving it to kids.
Full disclaimer, I didn't make the recipe exactly as I'm posting it. El Pollo Loco set off my capsicum allergy one day, and their food isn't usually a trigger for me if I stay away from the salsas. So I'm not even risking bell peppers at this point and subbed in tomatillos. All the chiles and peppers in this version I'm posting because they probably taste good. What I risked was a teaspoon of chili powder in over half a gallon of soup. Mild heartburn, but no tingling nerves or asthma.
If you don't feel like making your own chicken, two cans of it will do. That will cut 45 minutes off your prep time, but can get kind of expensive. Making this as a way to use up leftover chicken is probably the most efficient use of your time. I used the last of the turkey.
Since I hadn't had tortilla soup before, I didn't realize it needed garnishes. I guess it's kind of like chili. These garnishes could get as elaborate as the soup itself, making this great for group meals. Have a big crowd in the house over the holidays? Make a double or triple recipe and put out garnishes and some tortilla chips. Each bowl would be unique and the guests would feel like they were participating. Oh, and here's yet another gluten-free recipe (I seem to be making a lot of those lately, but making up for it during the rest of the day), so you wouldn't have to worry about that increasingly annoying part of the dietary spectrum.
1 C diced red onion
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
*1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tb olive oil
*2 Tb (one ounce) tequila - optional
1 qt unsalted chicken stock
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes and chiles
1 15 oz can black beans
1 C frozen corn kernels
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 jalapeño or Anaheim chile, seeded and diced (or to desired spiciness)
*2 C cooked, shredded chicken
4 6" corn tortillas
*1 Tb masa harina or corn meal
salt to taste
garnishes such as more diced onion, crumbled cotija cheese, sour cream, diced avocado, lime wedges, cilantro, jalapeño…
1. Early in the day, take the tortillas out of the package and let them sit in the air to get a little stale. Think croutons. When you cut a stale tortilla into strips for the soup, they will soak up the broth better than fresh. If making your own black beans instead of using the can, soak and cook 2/3 C dry to get roughly the same yield.
2. In a large soup pot, sauté onion in the oil. Add the cumin and chili powder and continue to cook until the spices are fragrant and the onion starts to soften. Add minced garlic and continue to cook another minute. Add tequila and let it boil off until the pan is mostly dry.
5. When the soup has half simmered, taste and add salt or spices as necessary. Stir in the masa mix. Keep simmering until the raw veggies are as cooked as you like them and the soup has thickened slightly.
6. If serving all of the soup at once, stir in tortilla strips. If there are going to be leftovers, treat the strips as a garnish and just put a handful at the bottom of each bowl before adding the soup. You could also serve with a starter lime wedge squeezed into it and just have more available with the garnishes. If you cook the lime directly into the soup, it won't have the same freshness.
Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a side
Difficulty rating π