Tortilla soup with chicken, lime and smoked chilies
Tortilla soups vary from thick, tomatoey purées to lighter versions like this one.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Start to finish: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Make Ahead: Yes
1 small, dried chipotle pepper (see note)
1½ tbsp. (22.5 ml) olive oil, plus extra for frying the tortilla strips
1 c. (250 ml) onion, chopped
1 tbsp. (15 ml) garlic, minced
2 tsp. (10 ml) ground cumin
1½ tsp. (7.5 ml) dried oregano
1 28-oz. (875-g) can diced tomatoes, drained well
6 c. (1.5 L) chicken stock
1 lb. (500 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
1 medium, yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into strips
2 tbsp. (30 ml) fresh lime juice salt
6 6- to 7-inch (15- to 18-cm) corn tortillas
½ to ¾ c. (125 to 180 ml) sour cream
1/3 c. (90 ml) fresh cilantro, chopped 6 thin lime wedges for garnish (optional)
Put the chipotle pepper in a small bowl and cover with 1 cup (250 ml) boiling water. Let sit until softened, 20 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Using a small knife, cut a lengthwise slit in the pepper and scrape out and discard seeds. Coarsely chop the pepper and set aside.
Heat 1½ tablespoons (22.5 ml) olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cook until softened, stirring often, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add the chopped chipotle, cumin, oregano, tomatoes and stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Purée the soup (using a blender, processor or food mill) and return to the pot.
Bring the puréed soup to a simmer over medium heat and add the chicken and yellow peppers. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through and peppers are tender, 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice, taste and season with salt. (The soup can be prepared 1 day ahead; cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat.)
To make the garnish, stack the tortillas, then cut them in half. Stack halves and cut crosswise into ¼-inch (0.5-cm) strips. Set a medium skillet over medium-high heat and coat the bottom generously with olive oil. When the oil is hot, add ? of the tortilla strips and sauté, turning often, until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer strips to paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining tortilla strips, adding more oil as needed. (Tortilla strips can be cooked 3 hours ahead; leave at room temperature.)
To serve, ladle soup into 6 bowls. Garnish each serving with fried tortilla strips. Add a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro, and serve with a lime wedge to squeeze over the soup, if desired. Serves 6.
Note: If you can’t find dried chipotles (dried smoked jalapeño peppers), which are sold in cellophane packages at most supermarkets, substitute canned chipotles in adobo, a spicy tomato sauce. Rinse off the sauce and seeds and chop the pepper before adding it to the soup. Chipotle peppers canned in adobo sauce are sold at specialty food stores, Latin-American markets and in the Latin-American foods section of many supermarkets.
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