Tortilla Soup (Sopa de Tortilla)

Sopa de Tortilla is a traditional Mexican soup made from strips of fried tortillas submerged in a flavorful chicken broth flavored by roasted tomatoes, garlic, and onion, topped with pieces of pasilla chile and fresh cheese cubes. its exact date of origin remains unknown, but the use of chicken broth does help narrow it down to sometime after the Spanish conquistadors introduced chickens to Mexico in the 16th century.

Although chicken broth is new-ish to Mexican cuisine, the soups namesake, “tortilla” has just a bit more history. The oldest identified tortillas, for example, date back as far as 10,000 years BC and were made of native maize with dried kernels. It was the principal food of the Aztecs who lived in Mesoamerica a gazillion years ago. Tortillas were originally called “tlaxcalli” by the Aztec but after Hernan Cortes and the Spanish conquistadors visited themselves on the Mexican natives, they began calling these corn flatbreads “little cakes,” which is “tortillas” in the Spanish language.

Sopa de Tortilla

This classic soup is simple while also being an exciting menagerie of flavors and accents at the same time. Easy to make, the trick is to use a good chicken bone broth and roasted tomatoes.
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Course: Appetizer, Lunch, Soup
Cuisine: Jaliscense Mexican, Mexican
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Author: My Hungry Traveler

Equipment

  • large saucepan
  • Skillet
  • Blender or food processor

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 1 medium Onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, peeled
  • 15 oz Can roasted diced tomatoes, drained
  • Salt
  • 6 Corn tortillas, store bought and stale
  • cup Vegetable oil
  • 2 Dried Chiles Pasillas, stemmed and seeded
  • 8 oz Cubed queso fresco, Monterey Jack or farmer's cheese
  • 1 Lime, cut into 6 wedges

Instructions

  • The Broth – Heat 1 tbsp oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic cloves and cook about 12 minutes until both are a dark golden-brown (careful not to burn). Scrape into a blender, add tomatoes and process until smooth. Reheat same skillet with 1 tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add tomato mixture and stir for 5 minutes. Pour into a large sauce pan containing the broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt.
  • Prepare GarnishesMake tortilla strips by cutting dried tortillas in half and then slicing the halves crosswise into ¼-inch strips. Over medium-high, heat ⅓ cup oil in a skillet. When hot, add tortilla strips and turn often until they become crispy. Drain on paper towels. Make chiles by cutting into 1-inch squares and frying them for only a few seconds. Remove to a small serving bowl.
  • Serve – Divide cheese cubes then tortilla strips between serving bowls. Ladle hot broth over and serve with lime wedges and chile squares on the side.

Notes

  • To make a heartier version, 1 cup of shredded or cubed chicken may be added to bowls right before broth.
  • Although the traditional recipe calls for 2 cups of cubed Mexican queso fresco, most any cheese that can be cubed can be used. 
  • To dry tortillas right out of the package, lay each one out on paper towels for around 30 minutes.

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