Martha Stewart’s Tortilla Soup

When the weather turns cold, one of the first things I do is make a soup or stew. Virginia has been a bit bipolar lately, so I may make a great pot of something, and then I am surprised by the warm snap that comes a few days later. This soup is the exception to any rule – warm or cold weather – it is delicious. M does not like cabbage or avocado but when they are in this soup he does not mind them at all – he piles those condiments on like it is nobody’s business! So consider this recipe sometime, you will enjoy it for most of your week.

This recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook. I first heard about this book via Kappa Prep. This was a while ago when the book first came out, she may have even done a giveaway! Regardless, I was given the book as a gift a couple years later from my Grandparents. My Grandmama was almost jealous. Here is what they wrote inside:

Aren’t they the best? They have written a note in every book they have ever given me, which I love as it is preserved for forever.

One of the things I have learned from doing this recipe a few times is that making your own stock does make this recipe that much better. So, first I will give you Martha Stewart’s basic chicken stock from page 41 and then I will follow with her tortilla soup from page 47.

Basic Chicken Stock
For flavor base
5 pounds assorted chicken parts (backs, necks, wings or a whole chicken)

For aromatics
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-to-2-inch lengths
2 celery stalks, chopped into 1-to-2-inch lengths
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into eighths
1 dried bay leaf
1 teaspoon of whole black peppercorns

Bring water with chicken to a boil. Place chicken parts in a stockpot just large enough to hold them with about 3 inches of room above (8-quarts or larger) and add enough water to cover by 1 inch (about 3 quarts). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, using a ladle to skim impurities and fat that rise to the top. [Note by Whit: I use organic chicken and I really do not get that many impurities or fat with that kind of meat!]

Add aromatics and simmer. Add vegetables, bay leaf, and peppercorns and reduce heat to a bare simmer (bubbles should just gently break the surface). Cook, skimming frequently, for 1.5-2.5 hours (depending on taste preference). [Note by Whit: Honestly, I cook the chicken in the pot until it is done. Then I take out the pieces I will strip for meat like the thighs, breasts, legs while keeping other parts, bones and difficult-to-pick pieces in the pot. I let it simmer most of the day like that so the flavor is deep and rich. I then use my skimmer to lift out the vegetables, bay leaf and any bones, meat or fat remaining in the pot. If I am just making the stock, I let it cool and place them in various containers to freeze, noting the date as I try to use them within 3 months. However, if I am making the tortilla soup, please continue to follow below!]

[Note by Whit: If continuing from the above stock recipe, be sure to watch your chicken meat so it is not overcooked! It is easier to clean the chicken while it is still warm, you can easily slip the fat off and shred the meat with forks or your hands into bite-size pieces.]

Tortilla Soup
For chile puree
2 dried pasilla chiles
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons sunflower oil, plus more for tomatoes
3 tomatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds), halved
1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

For finishing soup
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

For garnishes
Fried tortilla strips [Note by Whit: I use crumbled up tortilla chips, way easier]
1/4 white or green cabbage, halved lengthwise, cored, and thinly sliced (1 cup)
1/2 red onion, finly diced
3/4 cup cilantro leaves
1 ripe, firm avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
Lime wedges

Meanwhile, prepare chiles Toast the chiles in a dry medium skillet over high heat until fragrant and charred, about 1 minute on each side. [Note by Whit: if this gets too hot you will accidentally inhale the smokey ‘fragrant’ goodness of a burning pepper. Don’t let this happen!] Let cool a bit, then split chiles lengthwise and scrape out seeds; discard seeds. Put chiles in a bowl and cover with warm water to soften, about 20 minutes (do not drain!!!). If necessary, weight chiles with another bowl to keep them submerged.

Make puree Heat broiler with rack about 5 inches below heat source. Lightly oil tomatoes and broil until charred in spots, about 5 minutes. Let cool briefly, then coarsely chop. Using the same skillet as above, heat oil over medium-high heat and saute onion and garlic until translucent, about 3 minutes, stirring to prevent to prevent sticking. Add the tomatoes and cook 2 minutes more. Stir in chiles and soaking liquid. Allow mixture to cool slightly before pureeing in a blender until smooth. Strain mixture through a sieve, pressing with a flexible spatula to extract as much liquid as possible (discard solids).

Finish soup Add puree to fortified stock and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes, to allow the flavors to blend. Add shredded chicken and cook just to heat through, then stir in lime juice.

Serve Ladle soup into serving bowls and serve garnishes in individual bowls alongside.

If you are looking for a great gift for a pair of newlyweds, a friend who has recently gotten into cooking and may need some inspiration, or someone who wants to have a great resource on the basics that they can improve upon, this book would be a wonderful gift for the holiday season. Otherwise, ENJOY!!!

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Virginia based lifestyle blogger Whitney of WorthyStyle shares her beauty, fashion, gluten free cooking, family life, and more. Follow along!

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