The best tortilla soup I’ve ever had came from a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Ixtapa, Mexico called Mama Norma’s. I’ve been here plenty of times as a child and this soup holds a special place in my memory. Common restaurant tortilla soup is always a huge letdown. Since unfortunately, I can’t visit Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo every day, I made up this soup at home and I swear-it tastes exactly like the original. I use toasted Ancho chili peppers to give this hearty soup its deep, smoky flavor without being too spicy.
Ingredients for the Soup:
1/2 cup diced Onion
4 cloves of Garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons of Oil
4 Large Dried Ancho Chili Peppers
4 Cans of Diced Tomatoes
1 tablespoon Dried Red Chili Flakes
4 Cups of Chicken Broth
Garnishes for the Soup:
1 cup chopped fresh Cilantro
6 Corn Tortillas
1 cup of Shredded Cheese (Mexican Queso is preferable, but you can use Cheddar or Pepperjack)
Prepare the Soup:
In a large pot, heat the dried Ancho Chili Peppers whole until toasty on each side. Make sure they don’t burn and set them aside.
In the same pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the diced onions and garlic until fragrant.
Meanwhile, blend 4 cans of tomatoes in a blender so it is all the same consistency. You want the tortilla soup to be chunky because of the garnishes, not because of the tomatoes! I like a smoother tortilla soup.
Pour out of the blender and place most of the blended tomatoes in a separate bowl, but leave a little bit in the blender.
Once the onions and garlic are done cooking, add them to the tomatoes in the blend and blend until fully incorporated.
Add all of the blended tomatoes/onions/garlic to the pot and bring to medium-high heat.
Add 4 cups of chicken broth and cover.
Take the toasted Ancho Chili Pepper and slice/rip into thin strips. Add this and the Red Chili Flakes to the soup in the pot.
Stir every so often and keep the lid cracked. It should be done after 35 or so minutes when it is a thicker consistency.
Prepare the Garnishes:
Dice the avocado, grate the cheese and chop the cilantro, placing them in separate bowls.
Brush the tortillas lightly with oil and cut into strips with scissors. Toast them in the toaster oven until golden brown.
Spoon the soup into bowls and add garnishes as you desire.
You can also add chicken or turkey to this soup to make it a full entree, but I like it better as a side dish without.
Enjoy a warm taste of Mexico!
Photo: Elizabeth Adan
Elizabeth Adan is a Freelance Writer, Publicist and Brand Ambassador. Her blog Aquaberry Bliss is a unique food and travel blog dedicated to expanding your world and inspiring your creativity. When Elizabeth isn’t traveling, you’ll find her writing, hiking or gardening. Find Elizabeth on Twitter @stillaporcupine and on LinkedIn.