Lots of contrite worries these days, it seems. I'm in the process of making job changes. Our days are filled with unsettling financial news. And October 13th, I quiver just typing the date. But Alice Waters brings it home again with her recipe for Tortilla Soup, the scent of warmth wrapping my worries in it's aromatic blanket. I didn't think I was hungry last night after ferocious grazing all day, but once I smelled the chicken cooking down and the onions and garlic traipsing throughout the house, I couldn't help but anticipate my very own bowl of Tortilla Soup.
At market on Saturday we picked up radishes, kohlrabi, an anaheim pepper, garlic and onions. I think we might need to go back, bundle all these ingredients together, and freeze them so we can make this soup any day that comfort is craved.
Simmer 1 1/2 quarts of chicken broth. Then add 1 chicken breast half, preferably with skin and bones. Continue to barely simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, transfer the breast to a plate, and let cool. Remove and discard the skin and bones and shred the meat.
Using an 8-inch heavy-bottomed skillet, heat on med-high 1/2 cup peanut or vegetable oil. Then add 4 corn tortillas, cut into 1/2 inch strips. Fry in small batches until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.
In a large heavy pot, heat: 2 TB olive oil, add 1 Anaheim pepper, seeded and thinly sliced, 1/2 medium yellow onion thinly sliced, 2 garlic cloves thinly sliced, salt. Cook until soft about 5 minutes. Pour in the hot broth, then add: 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced, or 3 small canned whole tomatoes dice and with juice.
Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
Add the shredded chicken meat and heat through, but do not boil. Taste for salt and adjust as needed. Serve the soup with the crispy tortilla strips and bowls of these possible garnishes:
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
6 lime wedges
4 ounces crumbled queso fresco or grated monterey jack
1/2 cup peeled and shredded jicama (we substituted local kohl rabi peeled and cut into matchsticks)
1 cubed avocado (our avocado never made it to the table- it was one of the things I grazed on throughout the day).
We have plenty for lunch today, too.
We also made a Hopi Blue Cornbread to accompany the soup. The corn meal, which is truly a dynamic stormy sky blue color, came from Jennings Bros. Stone Ground Grains in Nashville, Michigan.
Here's the recipe:
1 1/2 cups Hopi Blue Cornmeal
1 TB baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup white flour
Combine these four ingredients in a large bowl. Then mix the following in a medium bowl:
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 TB olive oil
1/4 cup chopped jalapeno pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green peppers
1/2 cup whole kernel corn
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
Mix these wet ingredients into large bowl of dry ingredients until moistened. Pour into pan and bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes.