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Patricia Hill
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Default Tortilla Soup with Crisp Tortillas and Avocado Relish

Tortilla Soup with Crisp Tortillas and Avocado Relish

For tortilla soup
1/2 white onion
1 pound plum tomatoes
6 peeled garlic cloves
2 [dried] guajillo chilies* (about 1 ounce)
2 [dried] ancho chilies* (about 1 ounce)
ten 5- to 6-inch white corn tortillas
about 2 cups peanut or vegetable oil for deep-frying
8 cups chicken stock*
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon coarse salt

For avocado relish
2 ripe California avocados
1 small vine-ripened tomato
2/3 cup finely chopped white onion (about 1/2 onion)
1 to 2 fresh serrano chilies
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander sprigs
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely crushed black peppercorns

8 fresh coriander sprigs

Garnish: lime wedges

*available at Latino markets, specialty foods shops, and some

Make soup:
Preheat broiler.

Coarsely chop onion. In a well-seasoned 9-inch cast-iron or other
heavy ovenproof skillet arrange onion, tomatoes, and garlic in one
layer and broil about 2 inches from heat, turning vegetables
occasionally with tongs, until tomato skins are blistered and lightly
charred, about 20 minutes. Cool vegetables.

While vegetables are broiling, remove stems, seeds, and ribs from
chilies (wear rubber gloves). Heat a dry griddle or heavy skillet over
moderate heat until hot but not smoking and toast chilies, 1 or 2 at a
time, pressing down with tongs, a few seconds on each side, or until
more pliable. Transfer chilies as toasted to a bowl. Cover chilies
with hot water and soak about 20 minutes, or until soft.

Drain chilies, discarding soaking liquid, and in a blender puree with
vegetable mixture until smooth.

Cut 6 tortillas into quarters and cut remaining 4 tortillas into
1/4-inch-wide strips. In cleaned 9-inch skillet heat 1/2 inch oil
until a deep-fat thermometer registers 3750F. and fry tortilla
quarters in 3 batches, turning them, until crisp and pale golden, 30
seconds to 1 minute. With a slotted spoon transfer quarters as fried
to paper towels to drain.

Fry tortilla strips in 2 batches in same manner, transferring with
tongs to paper towels to drain and keeping them separate from fried
tortilla quarters. In a plastic bag with a rolling pin finely crush
tortilla quarters.

In a 5-quart heavy kettle bring stock and chili puree to a boil,
stirring. Stir in crushed tortillas, oregano, and salt and simmer,
uncovered, whisking occasionally, until tortillas are soft and soup is
slightly thickened, 30 to 45 minutes. If necessary, season soup with
salt and pepper.

Make relish while soup is simmering:
Quarter avocados, removing pits, and peel. Cut avocados into 1/4-inch
dice and finely chop tomato. Wearing rubber gloves, finely chop
chilies, including seeds if desired. In a bowl gently stir together
avocados, tomato, onion, chilies, and remaining relish ingredients
until combined well.

Divide relish, fried tortilla strips, and coriander among 8 soup
plates and ladle soup over mixture. Garnish soup with lime wedges.

Makes about 9 cups.

Robert Del Grande
You Asked For It
Cafe Annie, Houston TX


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