Saturday, September 1, 2007
Spicy Tortilla Soup with Heirloom Tomatoes
Welcome to the blog, everyone! For the first post, here is one of our favorite household originals. This post is tagged "Lez-Mex," our signature brand of bastardized Mexican classics. About a year ago, we were trying to imitate a Mexican tortilla soup, and decided to forgo the traditional chicken broth in favor of an all-tomato base. This is a lovely, sensuous way to showcase late-summer heirloom tomatoes like these:
4-6 large heirloom tomatoes, diced
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 serrano chile, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton de la vera)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
3 red, yellow or orange peppers (don't use green peppers--they're gross!)
The Finishing Touches:
5 corn tortillas, sliced into 1 and a 1/2 inch-long strips
Peanut or canola oil for frying
Crumbled white cheese like cotija, feta or ricotta salata (optional but scrumptious)
Set oven to broil. In a large casserole dish, combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, chile, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Toss liberally with olive oil (wear gloves or use a fork when mixing oil and chiles--I had to learn this the hard way and spent most of the evening with my hands in a bowl of milk!) and deposit casserole dish in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes and onion are starting to char. Meanwhile, roast peppers in the broiler, turning until blackened on all sides.
When peppers are completely blackened, remove from broiler and place in a paper bag to steam. Transfer the tomato-onion mixture to your blender. When the peppers have cooled down, peel off the charred skins, remove cores and seeds, chop roughly and add to the blender. Blend until the soup is smooth and reddish-orange.
Garnish time! Fry the tortilla strips in canola or peanut oil until golden and crisp, then remove to a paper-towel-lined plate. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with tortilla strips, optional cheese, cilantro and avocado slices.