"It's similar to tortilla soup, but with a richer, deeper broth."
I had no idea what sopa tarasca was before yesterday. Honestly, I'm still not sure if I completely comprehend the exact definition, but I can confirm that it's one of the best meals I've had in weeks.
I found out about the soup from this article in the New York Times, which traces the soup back to the town of Pátzcuaro in the Mexican state of Michoacán, where it was apparently invented in the 1960s. According to the author of the article, Dave Roos, sopa tarasca is a "tomato-based soup flavored with dried chili pasilla and Worcestershire sauce, thickened with corn masa and cream, and adorned with fried tortilla strips and Oaxacan cheese."
For the life of me I couldn't find a recipe that followed those guidelines, though I did find this version from Diana Kennedy by way of the Texas Monthly magazine. It doesn't follow the article's description precisely, but you can't argue with results like this.
It's similar to tortilla soup, but with a richer, deeper broth. That's the result of blending up the chiles, tomatoes, and other vegetables, then frying them in a skillet over high heat until they reduce down to a paste. Chicken broth is added, along with sprinkling of freshly fried tortilla strips and ancho chiles.
It's a satisfying soup—even more so when you consider how easily it all comes together.
- 1 medium tomato, roughly chopped
- 1 small white onion, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 4 ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
- 7 corn tortillas
- 4 tablespoons safflower or canola oil (plus more for frying)
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 1 stem of epazote (optional)
- 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
- Grated queso fresco (optional)
- 3 limes, sliced
Pour a few cups of boiling water into a bowl. Add one of the ancho chiles. Weight the chile down with a small plate or cup. Let it hang out for 10 minutes or so. When done, remove the chile and transfer the flesh to a blender along with the tomato, onion, garlic, 1 corn tortilla torn into pieces, and 1/2 cup of water. Blend until it is a smooth puree.
Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to a large pot over high heat. When very hot, dump in the pureed mixture. Stir often for 8 minutes. It should have reduced down to a paste.
Pour in the chicken broth and add the epazote (if using). Bring mixture to a simmer and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the remaining tortillas and ancho chiles int 1/2 inch wide strips. Heat the remaining oil in a small pot or skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the tortilla strips for about 30 seconds, flipping halfway through, until they are crunchy and lightly browned. Cook the chiles strips for about 10 seconds, until they become crunchy but don't burn.
Place strips of fried tortilla and chile in some bowls, and ladle on the soup. Sprinkle some cheese if you have it on top of the soup and drizzle in some fresh lime juice.