Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cheater cheater, tortilla soup eater

This time of year I'm usually all about chilled soups. Berkeley is usually basking in a radiant sunshine that we enjoy while looking smugly across the bay at the blanket of fog covering San Francisco. But not this year. We're lucky of the fog breaks for half an hour in the afternoon before it blows back in.

What this means is that I'm all confused about what to cook. If I want to grill, I need to put on a jacket. And no one wants chilled soup. What I've been craving is hot soup—for some reason, tortilla soup. But when I say "hot," I mean temperature. Very spicy foods make me want to cry. I think it's genetic. A college friend once tested on me the theory that it was because I grew up eating mildly flavored food. The plan was to start me out on mild salsa with my chips and gradually ratchet up the intensity. We progressed safely from mild to medium and declared the experiment a failure when I called uncle and begged to return to mild.

And so most tortilla soup recipes are a problem for me. You can use milder chilies, like Anaheims or even some jalapenos, but you just do not know. It could be too spicy; it could have not enough flavor. Chilies can be so confusing.

But enchilada sauce is not. You can buy it in a can that says "hot," "medium," or "mild." And it comes with all the spices you would want in a tortilla soup. Call me a hack, but it's easy and good.


1 10-ounce can red enchilada sauce
4 cups chicken broth
1 small onion, diced
1 chicken breast, bone-in, skinned

2 cups baby spinach
1 medium avocado, peeled and diced
1/2 cup queso fresco Mexican cheese (jack will also do)

6 corn tortillas, cut into strips
canola oil to spray

salt, to taste
lime, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine enchilada sauce, broth, onion, and chicken in a large pan and bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until chicken is done. Remove chicken and allow to cool. Continue cooking soup, which will reduce a little. When chicken is cooled enough to handle, shred and return to pan. Add salt and lime to taste.

Spread tortilla strips over a baking sheet, spray with canola spray, and toss to coat. Bake until crisped.

In individual soup bowls, place spinach, avocado, cheese, and tortilla strips. Ladle soup over.

Serve with lime slices and cilantro.

I also serve with something like this to people who would otherwise feel cheated out of their heat.


Kate said...

I don't know, that looks pretty awesome to me!

Purple Flowers said...

Looks real good to me!

Sis. Boom. said...

I had been collecting recipes for tortilla soup for about a month now as we had it at a company lunch for the first time and loved it. Your version looks much better. This is a great 'cheat'!