Recipes vary, and I have tried to use a relatively common one here, but with a little more chili added while cooking, to make it a little spicier.
At the local Mexican food fair in my neighborhood, I purchased some homemade garlic and chili de árbol salsa in oil, and the combination of the two is amazing – I use it in everything.
In case you can’t find it pre-made, I have included a recipe to make a similar version of this below, given to me by a friend from my hometown of Ojai, California. Ruben’s family owned some wonderful Mexican restaurants where I enjoyed eating for years, and made good friends.
It was actually my friend’s idea, when I told him I was making this soup, to add this chili. And then I realized I had just purchased the salsa!
Thank you Ruben for your help, and thank you and your family for all the years of delicious Mexican food, friendship, and kindness.
For me, I like to add all the garnishes. And I usually eat the soup on its own, or sometimes with a Caesar salad – which is also Mexican! (This might surprise you, I know!)
I love my food hot and spicy, so I add the fresh chilies on top, as well as everything else. But if you are not sure what your guests like, just put the garnishes out separately on the table, and let them add what they want.
Or, at least just put the chilies on the table, and let guests add them as they wish (or not at all – I think they’re missing out, but I know everybody doesn’t like their food spicy).
The recipe serves 2 to 4, depending on if want to use it as a side or main dish. But this soup is very hearty, and it can be eaten as a main dish very easily.
2medium sized whole jalapeño chili pepper for cookingthe other for topping
1tablespoonprepared garlic and chili de árbol salsa in oil with various spices and seeds depending on the brandif you cannot find this instructions are below on how to prepare it yourself or something similar. This will add a beautiful red tint to the soup and cooking it with the tortillas inside will add creaminess, which makes this recipe a little spicier and different than the more traditional thinner broth only base of the chicken tortilla soup.
Olive oil and Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
112 oz canfire roasted tomatoesdiced or you can take 5 roma tomatoes and roast them along with the onions and peel the skin off after they cool
1/2teaspoonchipotle chili powder
3cupsorganic vegetable broth
4corn tortillaschopped and save a fifth for a crispy topping if you cannot purchase the tortilla strips already fried and prepared by the bag full (just as delicious)
The juice of 1 limelook for the large and soft limes that have a lot of juice
Tortilla Soup Base
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
Spread out the onion slices, jalapeno chili pepper, garlic cloves and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Roast for about 20-30 minutes or until the edges of the onions blacken and start to caramelize, mixing them about half way through to cook thoroughly on all sides.
Garlic burns easily so remove them after about 5 minutes.
Remove the jalapeno chili pepper when the skin is black and full of blisters.
Place the roasted jalapeno in a small glass bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap.
Let it cool until you can comfortably peel the skin off. Cut the pepper in half with and with a fork and knife remove the stem and seeds. Leave a few seeds if you like it hot as the heat is in the seeds. Do not touch the seeds with your hands and then touch your eyes, face or mouth
In a medium pot, heat a few dashes of olive oil wait for it to get hot
Add peeled garlic cloves, onions, garlic (remove the paper like film on the outside of the clove), jalapeno, oregano, tomatoes, chile powder, cumin and a splash of agave with a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Cook for 4-5 minutes until the tomatoes start to bubble and sizzle.
Add a splash of sherry vinegar, stir, and cook for about 30 seconds more.
Add the vegetable broth that you already heated and prepared (cook the broth along with árbol salsa) along with the chopped tortilla pieces, reduce heat and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes more. Remove from heat and let cool until warm.
Transfer all ingredients to a food processor and puree.
Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed adding a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Serve with an extra drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top of each serving along with the other toppings or put the toppings to the side and let your guests chose which ones they prefer.
Árbol salsa from scratch
Purchase dried árbol chilis. The ones from New Mexico tend to be hotter. You can even use the small dried Japanese chilis if you cannot find the others but be warned, they are even hotter so use less or take out more seeds.
Remove 5 from the clear package they usually are sold in and remove the seeds. Leave a few seeds if you really like your soup spicy and hot
In a sauce boil some water and add the chilis, boil them until soft.
Break off the stems.
Place boiled chilies into a food processor and puree them
Place boiled chilis into a food processor and puree them
After they are pureed pour the sauce through a metal strainer before putting the sauce into the pot. This will insure a smooth and silky sauce without any unwanted particles in it.
Optional Toppings (Garnishes)
4 tablespoons of panela cheese cut into small cubes. If you can’t find this type of Mexican cheese substitute with crumbled feta.
Avocado slices, sliced thinly, about 6 slices per bowl
Cut avocado in fourths and then remove the skin from the fourths and cut lengthwise into thin slices
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh cilantro, finely chopped, about 4 tablespoons
Fresh jalapeño, sliced thinly
2-4 Lime wedges, to put on the side and squeeze in the amount you like
Oven or pan fried corn tortilla strips from the bag, if not slice the fifth tortilla in thin strips, toss with olive oil and sea salt and bake it in the over until crispy or pan fry. You can always make two of these if you want more
Lori was born in southern California and currently resides in Mexico. She is an actress and model who also writes in the fields of nutrition, wellness, and cuisine. Her passions include working as a volunteer with various groups in the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned and injured animals.