Serious Eats: Recipes

Tortilla Soup with Fried Pasilla Chiles

I can't even count the number of underwhelming tortilla soups I've had over the years. Most of the problems stem from shear excess. Restaurants just love loading the bowls with heaps of cheese, chicken, and other accouterments, which tend to cover up any flavor that might be in the actual soup. I've longed for a straightforward and simple recipe—one that wouldn't hide the soup's humble beginnings.

With fewer than ten ingredients, this recipe from Diana Kennedy's The Essential Cuisines of Mexico would be the perfect place to start.

It's all about the details here. The tomatoes are blackened on a skillet, blended with onion and garlic, and then reduced in a pot before the stock is ever added. The tortilla strips, which often just get added as a garnish at the end, are cooked with the soup base, and they help imbue each sip with a strong corn flavor. A little cheese is added to each bowl, but it's the final flourish that really sets this version apart: crumbled fried pasilla chiles, which add a shocking amount of depth to an already astonishingly tasty bowl of soup.

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