Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tortilla Soup and Popovers

What happened to spring?  It seemed to be here a couple weeks ago, but then I woke up to snow on the ground on Sunday….WTF?  Thankfully it looks like it may be reappearing this coming weekend.  The cold weather did allow me to get in one more batch of soup for the year. 

I’ve wanted to make popovers for a while now.  I got a King Arthur Flour gift card for Christmas and bought a popover pan – Step 1 complete!  It only took a couple months to get to Step 2, finding a recipe and actually making them – not bad for me.  I don’t know if you’ve ever been to BLT Steak, but they serve delicious popovers that have cheese melted on them.  So good.  I knew I wanted to do that for my first attempt and when I decided on Asiago cheese, it was also decided that the soup should have a Mexican theme, hence Tortilla Soup!

As I’ve never made Tortilla Soup before I decided to turn to old trusty, America’s Test Kitchen, and they did not disappoint.  This is actually a pretty easy dish to put together.  You puree what is essentially salsa and that becomes the soup base.  At the same time you boil some chicken in what will become your soup broth.  You separate, deconstruct, shred and recombine the ingredients and voilá – soup! 

The popovers are just as easy with only 4 ingredients (5 with my cheese addition), but way more impressive.  I felt like a little kid watching for Santa (I’m not the only one who has done that right??) as I peeked into the oven every few minutes and called to people to “Look look, they’re getting so big!”.  Ahhh, good times.  And wow, they were as good as I'd hoped.  Looks delish, huh?  For the popover recipe, check out this link:   ­

Now the details on the soup….


2 bone-in, skin-on split chicken breasts (about 1 ½ lbs)
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 large white onion, peeled and quartered
4 medium cloves garlic, peeled
2 sprigs fresh epazote or 8-10 sprigs fresh cilantro + 1 sprig fresh oregano (I used 2tsp dried cilantro and a ½ tsp dried oregano)
2 medium tomatoes, cored and quartered (I used 3)
½ medium jalapeño chile
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce + up to 1 Tbsp adobo sauce
1 Tbsp vegetable oil


Lime wedges
Avocado, diced into chunks
Cotija cheese, crumbled or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Fresh cilantro leaves
Crema Mexicana or sour cream (I used non-fat plain Greek yogurt)


Put chicken, ½ of the onion, 2 cloves garlic, herbs and broth in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.  Transfer cooked chicken to a large plate to cool.  Strain broth to remove all solids.  Discard solids and set broth aside.

Puree tomatoes, remaining onion and garlic, the jalapeño and chipotle with adobo in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds.

Heat oil in dutch oven over high heat until shimmering.  Add puree and about ¼ tsp salt and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Stir strained broth into tomato mixture, bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 15 minutes to allow flavors to blend.  Taste and add seasonings as appropriate (salt, additional adobo, etc.)

When the chicken has cooled, remove skin and bones and shred (use two forks to pull it apart).  Add the shredded chicken to the soup and simmer until heated through.  Serve in bowls over tortilla strips and topped with the garnishes of your choice.

*This recipe calls for making your own tortilla strips, which I did, however I think my corn tortillas were too thick as they remained a bit chewy even after baking them longer than recommended.  I would say, take a shortcut and buy some good quality corn tortilla chips instead of making your own.  But if you want to….. cut 8 corn tortillas into strips, toss with 1 Tbsp vegetable oil and bake at 425 degrees for about 14 minutes, tossing once during baking.