Serious Eats: Recipes

Dinner Tonight: Tortilla Soup

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

The real pleasures of tortilla soup come with the garnishes: the smooth coolness of avocado, the smoky chew of dried chiles, the burst of cilantro, the crunch of cabbage. Add all that to a golden, chickeny broth, tinged with tomatoes and the mellow heat of toasted chiles, and you have a restorative meal to last through these remaining weeks of winter doldrums.

Though my standby has long been Rick Bayless's simple tortilla soup that's already appeared in this column, I'm always on the lookout for ideas. I adapted this from a little cookbook called Great Greens, which fulfills its promise here by adding spinach to finish the soup. (For a vegetarian version, add more spinach, remove the chicken, and switch to vegetable broth.)

This recipe is less spicy and more textural that Bayless's. Though a homemade stock is always better, a store-bought broth (see our guide on the best store-bought broths/stocks) would work pretty well here since it's spiked with plenty of flavor from the cooking process. But I think it's more than worth it to buy corn tortillas and fry them fresh rather than relying on tortilla chips. They are the best garnish here, crisp, slowly softening, the heart of the soup and its namesake.

Tortilla Soup

About the author: Blake Royer founded The Paupered Chef with Nick Kindelsperger, where he writes about food and occasional travels. After a year in Estonia, he's now living in Chicago.

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