This has to be one of my favourite soups; it's such a delicious combination of flavours and textures, but I confess that I've never made it myself. I looked up a few recipes and found that it's quite simple to make, so I've resolved to try it out. I'll let you know when I do!
It's origins are lost in the mists of time; however, it probably wasn't the Aztecs who invented it but another prehispanic people. Who knows? Just enjoy it!
There are many variations to this recipe; you could use chile pasilla or chile ancho (both are smoked dehydrated chillies with a mild flavour); you could blend the chilli into the tomato broth for a spicier soup or just add the toasted strips of chilli when serving; and you can serve it with panela cheese (a fresh white cheese) or with a more cheddar-like cheese that will melt in the soup.
Here are the ingredients:
For the soup:
8 - 10 corn tortillas from the day before, cut into thin strips and fried or dry-toasted
1 tbsp oil (preferably olive oil)
1 1/2 litres of chicken stock
1/2 an onion, cut into large pieces and toasted in a dry pan
4 ripe tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, toasted in a dry pan
1 or 2 Pasilla / Ancho chillies, toasted in a dry pan (optional)
3 epazote leaves (if you can get it- it's a Mexican herb)
Shredded chicken (optional)
Avocado, in slices or cubes
Panela cheese (fresh white cheese), in cubes, or grated chihuahua cheese (similar to cheddar)
Mexican cream or sour cream
1 or 2 Pasilla / Ancho chillies, cut into thin strips or rings and fried or toasted in a dry pan
Chicharron (crispy pork crackling - optional, and probably only available in Mexico!)
Cook the tomatoes in water until soft and roughly blend with the toasted onion and garlic and chillies, if you want a richer and spicier broth. Don't over-blend.
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the blended tomato mixture to reduce it to the consistency of a paste. Then add the chicken stock, epazote leaves if you have them, and salt if you want, bring to the boil and then simmer on a low heat for three more minutes. Add the shredded chicken and cook for five more minutes.
To serve, put the tortilla strips, avocado and cheese in the bowls, pour the soup over the top and decorate with cream and the dark strips or rings of chilli. In a tasty variation, you could also add some pieces of crispy chicharron when you serve the soup.
Let me know if you try making this soup, I'd be really interested to hear how it turns out and what you think of it!
My sources for this recipe:
Here's the one I made myself:
I made it in a bit of a hurry, as it was late and I was hungry, and I confess that I didn't follow the recipe to the letter. It turned out okay, but not comparable to restaurant versions of this dish I've had in the past. I think the soup was lacking in flavour; a bit bland. I used pasilla chilli, but only one, divided between the soup and the garnish. They aren't hot at all, so I should have used two in the soup, I think, to give it more flavour. I also used much less than half an onion. I put in four tomatoes, but only about a litre of chicken stock and got a good consistency, so maybe if you are going to use a litre and a half of liquid I would add an extra tomato or two. I put too much shredded chicken in my soup - I would use much less or none at all the next time - but, worst of all, I forgot to buy the cream! I just had to manage without.