Remember back in March, we held our second progressive dinner on our street and it happened to fall right smack in Earth Hour? Our course was the appetizer and I chose to make Sopa Azteca or Tortilla Soup. The soup was a resounding success, full of flavour, colour and texture, but I did the unthinkable — I completely forgot to record my recipe which worked out to be a hybrid of Rick Bayless’s Sopa Azetca and a recipe that my good friend Barb of Profiteroles and Ponytails posted about some time ago!
Cinco de Mayo was just a few weeks ago and I thought it’s a perfect time to recreate this wonderful soup, before the weather starts getting too hot to enjoy soup. There is a bit of prep work, but once it’s all done, you pop it into a slow cooker and forget about it. I would even suggest you make it the day before you want to serve it because it’s just that much tastier the next day.
Sopa Azteca (Tortilla Soup)
Serves 4, dinner portions
- 100 g onions, coarsely chopped
- 3 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
- 2 small smoked dried haberno chili peppers, seeds removed (haberno is hot)
- 1 large pasilla chili pepper, seeds removed (pasilla is much more mild)
- 4 coriander stems with roots (rinsed well)
- 2-3 epazote stems (I could only find dried, you could probably use a bay leaf instead, but remember to remove it or omit it entirely)
- 800 mL strained tomato purée (I prefer low sodium)
- 2 L low sodium chicken stock
- 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp coriandre
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups frozen corn (or fresh on the cob BBQ’d and kernals cut off)
- 1 small whole wheat soft tortilla shell
BBQ’d Chicken or Turkey Breast (omit if you are using a previously roasted whole chicken)
- 400 g skinless, boneless chicken or turkey breast or 1 previously roasted chicken
- 1 dried haberno pepper, seeds removed
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp granulated garlic
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- pinch of sugar
- 1 tsp salt
Avocado Garnish (or use guacamole):
- 1 small avocado
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- juice of one lime
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
- 2 green onions, roughly chopped
- 4 tbsp low fat yogurt
- 4 tbsp shredded Mexican melting cheese (like Chihuahua or mozzarella)
- 1 lime cut into wedges
Directions for the Soup:
- Prepare your slow cooker by preheating it. Add the tomato sauce and chicken stock to the slow cooker; add the dried epazote and cilantro stems and roots.
- If you are using a previously roasted chicken, remove all the tiny bones and add it to the slow cooker, covering with the liquid.
- Add the seeded, dried chilli peppers (if you prefer less heat, put these peppers into a cheese cloth bag and tie off).
- Add the onions and garlic and cocoa, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika and coriander into the tomato sauce and stir well. Add 1 cup of corn.
- Cook on a medium low setting for 3-5 hours.
- Remove the woody stems and roots of the cilantro and epazot and discard, blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve to remove all the corn husks return to the slow cooker and add the other cup of corn. Keep warm until you wish to serve.
Directions for the Chicken or Turkey (omit if you are using a previously roasted chicken):
- Combine everything for the rub but the chicken or turkey in a dedicated coffee grinder for spices and grind until it’s a fine powder.
- Remove any bits of fat or skin from the chicken or turkey and completely coat with the dry rub. Refrigerate while soup is cooking.
- BBQ (with or without smoke) until the internal temperature is 74°C or 165°F. Set aside for 10 minutes and then using a fork, tear bite size pieces off. If you’re not going to use it right away, refrigerate and reheat when ready to use.
Directions for the Avocado Garnish:
- Peel and chop the avocado into half centimetre cubes (1/4″).
- Combine with the garlic, lime juice, cilantro and green onions and stir well.
- Refrigerate until serving.
- Preheat the oven to 175° C or 350°F.
- Lightly brush the tortilla shell with olive oil to prevent it from drying out.
- Using a pizza cutter and a kitchen ruler, cut the tortilla shell into 5-7mm strips (1/4″).
- Join 3 strips together end to end using a bit of water and pressing the strips firmly together.
- Carefully wrap each strip, oiled side in, on the cannoli cones. I found that pressing some tin foil on the tips prevented them from unraveling.
- Bake for about 10 minutes turning once. You are aiming to dry out the tortilla into a crisp, cracker cone.
- When finished, allow to cool for a minute and gently pry the cone from the cannoli mold. Reserve for presentation.
- Reheat the soup and chicken/turkey separately until piping hot. Ladle a generous amount of soup into each bowl, if using BBQd chicken or turkey breasts, shred into bite sized pieces and pile the chicken/turkey in the centre. If using the whole pre-roasted whole chicken, remove from bones and shred and pile into the centre of the bowl. Add a tablespoon of the avocado mixture and a tablespoon of yogurt. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the grated cheese over the hot soup and add the tortilla cone last to stand in the centre.Serve immediately with a wedge of lime.
- Serve with Jalopeño corn bread.
- Instead of fussing with the tortilla cones, just toast the sliced tortilla strips until crisp and serve piled in the centre like a Tee-Pee.